A Heart for Duns celebrates purchase of the Volunteer Hall

A Heart for Duns, the charity which manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community, became the new owner of the venue on 12 April 2018. It had leased the building since May 2016 and last September was awarded a grant of £206,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to support the purchase.

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “We are grateful to the Lowland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for offering to sell us the Volunteer Hall, and to the Scottish Land Fund for providing the necessary funding. The Hall has had a long association with the British Army, particularly the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. But it has a parallel tradition as a hub for the local community and, with the support of our many volunteers and members, we are privileged to build on this legacy. Bringing the Volunteer Hall into community ownership should enable AHFD to secure enough investment to transform it into a vital multipurpose hub that will benefit all residents of Duns and district.”

AHFD already has separate funding in place to convert the former caretaker’s flat into offices for non-profit groups, and to install an energy efficient heating and ventilation system for the main hall; work should be completed by the end of the summer. Further plans include a proper foyer and bar, another small hall, a better kitchen, and improved dressing rooms and storage.

To celebrate the purchase, two events for charity are planned at the Volunteer Hall for the weekend of 28 and 29 April. AHFD is joining with Duns Rotary Club to sponsor a concert by the Spatz & Co Showband on Saturday 28 April, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £18 from Nairn’s newsagent and online from Borders Events (www.borderevents.com). Then Duns Film Club will host the Scottish première of Through Our Eyes on Sunday 29 April, at 4pm. This documentary about Syrian refugees is by award-winning filmmaker Samir Mehanović, who will attend the event. Entry is free; donations can be made to a charity for refugees.

See also Origin and ownership of the Hall

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April films at the Volunteer Hall

Duns Community Cinema will show two recent releases at the Hall on Friday 13 April:

5.30pm  Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. In the film, Peter’s feud with Mr McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). James Corden voices the character of Peter with playful spirit and wild charm, with Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley performing the voice roles of the triplets, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. Run time 95 minutes (PG).

8.00pm  Finding Your Feet
On the eve of retirement, a middle class, judgmental snob discovers her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and is forced into exile with her bohemian sister, who lives on an impoverished inner-city council estate. The strong British cast includes Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Joanna Lumley and David Hayman. Run time 111 minutes (12A). Licensed bar.

Adults £6, Children £5 (free for 3 years & under), Family £20 (two adults & two children). Tickets at the door or in advance from 01361 884 935 or admin@aheartforduns.org

Duns Community Cinema is a collaboration between A Heart for Duns and Indy Cinema Group.

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Scottish Land Fund cash secures future of Duns Volunteer Hall

The future of a thriving community hub in Duns has been secured, thanks to Scottish Land Fund cash announced today.

A Heart for Duns manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community and has leased the building since 2014. Now, thanks to a Scottish Land Fund grant of £206,000, the group will be able to purchase the building, which will empower local people to be involved in its future development.

Welcoming the news, Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “The trustees are very excited by the investment from the Scottish Land Fund into the community of Duns and district. We are delighted at the level of support we have received from community groups, strategic partners and funders, and we look forward to the next stages of development that will follow once we own the venue. Working with the community, we plan to transform this key asset for the town, making it even more fit for purpose, energy efficient, equipped with digital technologies, and with more flexible performance and work spaces. There’s a lot of work ahead but this grant gives us a solid base on which to build.”

Announcing the funding, John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, said: “I am delighted to see another enterprising community take control of its own future with Scottish Land Fund assistance. When considering this project for funding, the committee was very impressed with the community consultation that has brought A Heart for Duns to this point. It is clear from the popularity of the building that there is a great desire to continue developing and enhancing the hall’s facilities and in doing so ensuring that it remains a thriving community hub for people now and in the future.”

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I warmly welcome this award from the Scottish Land Fund for Duns. It shows that there are a number of routes open to local groups who want to realise the potential of key community facilities – in this case, a leasing arrangement allowed the group to manage the facility, build their capacity to take on the challenges, and then put together a successful application for support to buy outright. It shows that groups who are already involved with assets at some level can still go on and achieve outright ownership if they wish.”

Ailsa Raeburn, Head of Community Assets for HIE, said: “More and more communities are taking control of their future by purchasing land and assets that matter to them. A Heart for Duns now has a great opportunity to take the hall and create a place where the real spirit of their community can flourish.”

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A Heart for Duns appoints Development Manager

A Heart for Duns, which manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community, has appointed Lindsay Wood as its first full-time Development Manager. This new post was advertised in April and is funded for three years by the Big Lottery Fund. Mr Wood has a range of experience and qualifications in project management and economic development.

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “We are very pleased that Lindsay has been able to join us, particularly at this time: the charity has recently become a Development Trust and we are looking to buy the Volunteer Hall from its owner, the Ministry of Defence. The experience Lindsay brings to the role — including over 25 years working with the principal economic development agencies in the Borders and as an active volunteer in many local groups — should prove invaluable as we develop a business plan for the sustainable future of the Hall.”

Lindsay Wood said: “A Heart for Duns is a dynamic institution and I look forward to working with the trustees, volunteers and staff, as well as the Hall users and community members and groups. I think the power of an organised community linked to the right motivation can enable a small group of enthusiastic people to change their world.”

Contact Lindsay Wood at the Volunteer Hall on 01361 884 935 or manager@aheartforduns.org.

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Duns Volunteer Hall to benefit from Big Lottery Fund

A Heart for Duns, which manages the town’s Volunteer Hall on behalf of the community, has been awarded a grant of £88,660 from the Big Lottery Fund. This will fund recruitment of a full-time Development Manager and a part-time Finance Assistant over the next three years, increasing the organisation’s capacity and enabling it to develop the Volunteer Hall as a first-rate venue for a wide range of events and activities.

As a Scottish charity, A Heart for Duns operates with a small team of part-time staff, supported by a substantial body of members and volunteers. The organisation runs its own events in the Hall, including monthly community lunches and film nights, food and craft markets, a beer festival and Christmas parties, as well as the recent Vivaldi’s Gloria concert. It also enjoys a relationship with a core group of Hall users, who together put on a busy and varied programme of theatre, music, dance, exercise, sport and fundraising events.

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “This grant from the Big Lottery Fund is a huge boost to A Heart for Duns at a critical period in the development of our work. We will be able to build the business of the Volunteer Hall and work more closely with our regular users to improve the service we offer them. The whole of Duns will benefit from this grant and we look forward to more and more people, groups and organisations using this very special venue.”

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “I am delighted that A Heart for Duns has been successful in securing a Big Lottery Fund grant. The funding will make a big difference where it is needed most and I wish A Heart for Duns every success as it goes on to develop and expand its project for the benefit of their local community.”

The closing date for both job applications was 23 April 2017.

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New Duns Film Club

Would you like to join the new Duns Film Club? Then come along to the Volunteer Hall for a free viewing of  A United Kingdom on Sunday 26 March, at 4pm. A discussion afterwards will enable you to tell A Heart for Duns what you would like from the club. Licensed bar; over 18s only.

A United Kingdom is a 2016 British drama based on the true-life romance between Sir Seretse Khama, later to become the first President of Botswana, and Ruth Williams, a London office worker. In the late 1940s their proposed marriage was challenged not only by their families but also by the British and South African governments. David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike portray the couple. Run time 108 minutes (12A). 

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A Men’s Shed in Duns?

You are cordially invited to a public meeting to look into setting up a Men’s Shed in Duns. The meeting will be held at the Volunteer Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 February.

What is a Men’s Shed? It is a place where a man who has time on his hands can go to make things, use tools, relax and make friends. The aim is to help men improve their health, address issues such as social isolation, and play their part in community development. Some 1,500 such projects have been set up around the world, with over 70 in Scotland, including in several towns in the Borders. You can find out more at the website of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association and in an article from Volunteer Centre Borders

This initial meeting is to explore possibilities and to form a plan to set up a similar project in Duns. It would be great to have your input and help!

If you would like to attend the meeting (or if you can’t attend but would like to be involved) please send an email to Eddy Richards at admin@aheartforduns.org

Lastly, please feel free to pass on this invitation to anyone you think might like to see a Men’s Shed in Duns.

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Thanks from A Heart for Duns

Many thanks to all who supported and voted for the Duns Community Theatre bid in The People’s Millions competition.

Although we did not win the head-to-head with the Peebles music project, we did gain the bonus award for the runner-up among the six contestants in the ITV Borders region. This means that Duns still gets the full £43,000 that we requested in the original bid.new-peoples-millions

The award will be used mainly to equip the Volunteer Hall with new lighting, sound, projection and staging systems. This will make film nights and theatre performances much more enjoyable, and we hope that many people of all ages will benefit from the new facilities.

We could not have done it without you, so once again, thank you!

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Duns Community Theatre in bid for lottery funding

A bid from Duns has been shortlisted for the People’s Millions competition, which could secure funding to turn the Volunteer Hall into a vibrant community theatre for Berwickshire. The effort is being led by A Heart for Duns, with support from Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society and Duns Players.

The People’s Millions is a partnership between Big Lottery Fund and ITV, where the public help decide which local community projects get up to £50,000 of National Lottery funding. For ITV Border viewers, the Duns project will be screened during the Border News on Wednesday 26 November. Viewers will be asked to vote for their preferred bid, in this case either Duns Community Theatre or a musical project in Peebles.

The Duns bid is for £43,000 to equip a professional quality space for theatrical performances. According to Peter Lerpiniere of Duns Players, “The Volunteer Hall facilities are fairly basic, so we are aiming for a new lighting rig, a projection and sound system, and blackout curtains. These upgrades would also bring benefits for concerts, film nights and other events at the Hall.”

For the Duns bid to succeed, it will need full support from the town and surrounding area. Emma Taylor from Duns Operatic Society said: “A first class community theatre in the centre of Berwickshire would attract people from far afield, whether simply attending a show or pursuing a career in the performing arts. We hope that everyone in the county will support our bid.”

Derek Janes, Convenor of A Heart for Duns, said: “We are very excited to get through to this stage. Having up-to-date equipment will allow us to run a full programme of activities at the Volunteer Hall, which will in turn allow it to become fully sustainable. Please galvanise your friends, relations and work colleagues, in person and through social media, to vote for Duns Community Theatre.”

To support the Duns bid now, please visit The People’s Millions website.

On 26 November, People’s Millions will release telephone numbers for voting and the lines will be open from 9am until midnight. Mobile and BT landline votes cost no more than 15p; other landlines may vary.

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Volunteer Hall survey launched

A Heart for Duns has launched a survey to find out what services and facilities the local community would like to see in the Volunteer Hall. We want to ensure we develop what the people of Duns and Berwickshire want, as well as build a strong business case for the improvement of the Hall to support applications for grant funding.

Please take a few minutes to complete the online survey

Paper copies of the survey are also available in Duns, to be completed and handed in to Nairn’s/the Post Office.

This research is being carried out by Community Enterprise (01506 862227) on behalf of A Heart for Duns. All information is gathered in the strictest confidence.

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