Duns Volunteer Hall is now owned by A Heart for Duns, a local charity set up in 2012 primarily to provide a multi-purpose venue for the town.
A £206,000 grant from the Scottish Land Fund last September meant the charity was finally in a position to buy the building which was owned by the Lowland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association.
A Heart for Duns (AHFD) became the new owners on April 12, convenor Derek Janes saying: “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 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, with work expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
Further plans include a foyer and bar, another small hall, a better kitchen, and improved dressing rooms and storage.
The hall was built by public subscription in 1894 and although owned by the Ministry of Defence it has been administered by Scottish Borders Council in recent years.
In 2009 the council considered giving up the lease of the hall prompting a Save our Hall campaign which persuaded the council to continue to lease the building. Three years later, and with little money having been spent on the hall A Heart for Duns, was formed, its primary role being to save the building. SBC finally gave up the lease of the hall in April 2015 and in May 2016 AHFD took over the lease (with a three year grant contribution from SBC of £6,500 for the first three years) and they are now the owners.
To celebrate the purchase, AHFD is joining with Duns Rotary Club to sponsor a concert by the Spatz & Co Showband on Saturday, April 28, at 7.30pm.
Then Duns Film Club will host the Scottish première of Through Our Eyes - a documentary about Syrian refugees - on Sunday, April 29, at 4pm.