New President for Clarence Hall

Posted: 21st January 2019

The campaign to breathe new life into Crickhowell’s iconic Clarence Hall received a further boost when it was announced that Dame Shân Legge-Bourke, recently retired Lord Lieutenant of Powys, had agreed to become its President.

Dame Shân’s family connections with the Hall go back for generations.  Her Great Grandfather, Sir Joseph Bailey, was on hand to assist Prince Albert in laying the foundation stone in 1890 and her earliest memories are of watching Mickey Mouse in the Clarence Hall Cinema in the 1940s.

She said: “Clarence Hall is so very important to Crickhowell because so many people have grown up with it.  I remember coming here as a small child to watch the cinema, everybody did.  The older ones used to come for a canoodle in the back seats because it was one of the few places where you could get away from your parents, and it was deemed to be ‘suitable’ to take your girlfriend for a date.”

Dame Shân has maintained her links with the Hall throughout her lifetime and while she was Lord Lieutenant; she talked to schoolchildren about the first World War during a recent exhibition at the Hall.

Dame Shân welcomed the plans to refurbish the hall: “It’s an absolutely fantastic idea,” she said, “If the Hall can be regenerated so that the community of Crickhowell and the surrounding district can use it seven days a week and it becomes even more of an asset to the town, that would be brilliant.”

The Chair of the Clarence Hall Trustees, Dean Christy, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Dame Shân is so supportive of what we are trying to do here and the fact that she is prepared to put her name to this project is phenomenal.  Dame Shân also has a lifetime of experience and contacts which we are certain will be of tremendous benefit to the Hall.”

The Hall’s Trustees are hoping to unveil their plans for the Hall shortly, and they will use these to engage with the community before launching a fundraising campaign in earnest.  They say they will be seeking grants from various organisations but will also appeal to the public, as several people have already expressed an interest in donating.

The Hall recently received a donation of nearly £300 from Waitrose’ Community Matters scheme after customers voted for the Hall using the green tokens given at the checkouts.  The money will be used to contribute towards the upgrade of the audio-visual systems used  for the present day Crickhowell Cozy Cinema.

Dean Christy said:” We are very grateful to Waitrose and their customers for this donation.  The wider fundraising plan will get underway in earnest in the next few weeks, and everyone will have a chance to donate to and be part of this fantastic community facility.”