Villagers in Eastrea are gearing up for an historic royal visit next Wednesday (July 17) when the Duke of Gloucester comes to open their long-awaited village hall.
More than 120 local residents and their guests are expected for a special, ticket-only event to mark the launch of the new community centre on Coates Road.
After a celebratory lunch, they will meet the duke, who is due to arrive at about 1.30pm for an hour-long visit.
Local people have spent years campaigning for the hall. They have succeeded in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds, including securing a £50,000 grant from Fenland District Council’s Rural Capital Fund.
Professor Brian J. Ford, chairman of the Eastrea Village Hall Trust, praised FDC officers for the “tremendous support” they had given to the scheme.
The new hall is designed to cater for sport, clubs, plays and concerts. It features a large performance space, a cafe and foyer area, a meeting and exhibition room, changing rooms and washrooms.
Entertainment during Wednesday’s celebrations will include Maypole dancers from Coates County Primary School, traditional Molly Dancers from New Road School, Whittlesey, and Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks”.
The official opening will be followed at the weekend (July 20-21) by a Heritage Faire, including a traditional hog roast, a dog show and a display of old literature, photographs and maps of Eastrea.
One of the highlights is expected to be a flypast by a Second World War Lancaster bomber at about 2.55pm on Saturday.
* Fenland District Council’s Rural Capital Fund was set up in 2010 specifically to support rural communities outside the four market towns. It still has £317,000 available for distribution. For more details and how to apply, call Hetty Thornton, senior community support officer at FDC, on 01354 654321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org