As you all know, the Westgate Community Trust aims to save the Westgate Hall for use as Canterbury’s community centre. Well, your response to our Grand Christmas Fayre at the Westgate Hall on Sunday afternoon made all the efforts of the Trust and its army of volunteers over the past year worthwhile.

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us and created a true community festival.

Representatives of all generations from the immediate neighborhoods — St. Peter’s, St. Dunstan’s, the Tannery, St. Mildred’s — and further afield — Japan, Holland, France and the United States — enjoyed the creativity of over 30 artists and crafts people, filled in more than 50 surveys and membership forms, savoured delicious food and drink, sang, danced and loudly encouraged local musicians.

Sunday’s success has given us fresh energy as we dive into producing our Second Business Plan in which we aim to demonstrate to the Council that the Trust has a sound business case for taking over the Hall. We believe that working together with Canterbury City Council to create a financially independent community centre has the potential of becoming a national flagship project for Community and Council partnership.

The Trust is planning to become a charity with a social enterprise arm. The social enterprise would ensure the Hall is financially self-sustaining; charitable status would permit application for project specific grants. And soundproofing and energy efficiency using ethically sourced and environmentally friendly materials will be a priority.

Most importantly, Sunday’s Fayre confirmed understanding that a refurbished Westgate Hall would be a dynamic forum for Canterbury’s community and, as such, support the re-invigoration of Canterbury’s centre heralded by the new Marlowe Theatre and Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. In this context, the quality of life in our city will only improve.