Do you have skills to help the folk at Lincombe Barn?

Published on: 02 Jun 2014

lincombe barn

FROM whist to war games, from lacemaking to Zumba – the range of activities taking place at Downend Folk House's Lincombe Barn is mind-bogglingly wide.

The Barn, as it is usually known, has been a community hub for more than 40 years and has adapted over the decades to meet changing needs and demands.

It is run largely by volunteers, who have put in thousands of hours of work to develop a centre that is used by people of all ages, from babies to nonagenarians.

Now the team is looking for more support to ensure all these much-valued activities can continue.

Eileen Bendrey, chairman of Downend Folk House Association, said: “There is a critical need for volunteers to join our maintenance team. We also need additional help in the office and catering.”

The team has redecorated the Barn's facilities, which include two large halls, a modern kitchen, a coffee lounge and three further meeting rooms, in the past year.

But as volunteers get older and less able to do the work themselves, they have to pay tradesmen, which is hitting the association's finances.

The original building of Downend Folk House dates from about 1750 and was part of the Cleeve estate. It was threatened with demolition in 1968 as part of a road-widening scheme, but residents, including Jean Hanmer and Cliff Wherlock, fought to save it.

After some initial renovation, Downend Folk House opened in 1970, offering classes and clubs in dozens of activities to around 1,000 members.

These include calligraphy, marquetry, play reading, writing, art and sewing as well as keep fit, yoga snooker – and many more. The Barn hosts a camera club, a local history and a natural history group.

Organisations that are not part of The Barn meet there, including the Kingswood Y's Men and Cleeve Singers. A pre-school is also based at The Barn.

Increasingly, the facilities are hired out to users, providing an income of more than £29,000 a year.

The association works hard to balance “commercial” activities with provision of community activities for its members, in keeping with its aims of fostering community spirit, and providing opportunities for the creative use of leisure and the building of friendships.

Each year, it holds a craft fair, a Christmas market and spring market . It also organises regular lunches, coffee afternoons, table-top sales and outings.

The brochure for the 2014-15 programme is now out and details of activities are available from administrator Joan Wheadon, 01179 562367,

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