A NEW £90,000 parish hall had been officially opened. It was dedicated by the Lord Primate, the Most Rev. Dr. John Armstrong.
The parish raised almost £60,000 through voluntary subscriptions and proceeds from the church functions over the last four years, to build the hall which was to replace a tin building which was adjacent to the church and which had served the parish for 50 years.
The front of the hall, a school house built in 1819, is unaltered in styles as it is a ‘listed’ by the department of Environment and Historic Buildings branch. The main hall is completely new, while the school section had been completely refurbished. It has been plastered inside and out, and new floors, ceilings, doors windows, etc., have been added. The only grant aid the parish had received is 33 ‘per cent for this ‘historic’ section. Contractor Mr James Roleston (Richhill), architect was Mr Clive Henning Portadown.
The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs Mary Colthurst wife of the rector, the Rev. Canon RWR Colthurst after the service of thanksgiving in the Church which was very largely attended by not only parishioners and visitors but by many diocesan clergy. Extra seating had to be brought into the church but many had to remain standing such was the overwhelming response. The service was conducted by the rector assisted by the Archdeacon of Armagh the Venerable Fred Gowing BA. Rector’s and people’s churchwardens, Mr Mathew Patton and Mr Neville Poole, requested the Primate to sanction the hall opening and dedicate it to the glory of God. The builder, Mr Roleston, then handed the key to Mrs. Colthurst who performed the opening ceremony. Once the Archbishop, clergy and people had taken their places inside the dedication and prayers followed. “When you meet here or in the church on God’s business, may He bless you as you use this hall through the leadership of Canon and Mrs. Colthurst whom you esteem,” said Dr. Armstrong later. After the benediction supper was served by the ladies of the parish.
The rector in welcoming the turnout of several hundred said he was delighted with the response. In outlining the history of the hall Mr. Colthurst explained that the select vestry didn’t ‘dodge’ this one thought!” He joked. In 1930 part of the school was demolished and a tin building erected which had served well until 1982, he said. The need for new premises had been discussed in 1967 and seven years later the present sire was purchased from the Armagh Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility. There were problems which had not been solved until 1982 when the work started, said Mr. Colthurst.
From catering and proceeds of parish events £55,000 had been raised over the past four years. The collection at the service amounted to £2,390 and there had been many individual gifts of equipment and furnishings for the hall and kitchen dedicated to the glory of God and in memory of parishioners, who had died, said the rector. The Primate earlier dedicated a table in memory of the late Mr. John Leslie Troughton, an ardent church worker, a table and chairs for the use of Sunday school in memory of 5-year-old Elsie Moore and stainless steel tea boiler in memory of Mrs. Sarah Buckley. Mr Colthurst concluded by saying that he had good support from the vestry and the parish as a whole – parish support was never lacking and there was at no time any cause to worry about the quality of the contractor’s work. He paid tribute to Mr> Patton and Mr Poole. Mr Poole thanked everyone for their support – Mrs Joanna Graham for the excellent floral arrangements – and the ladies of the parish for the catering. He said Mrs. Colthurst had carried out her duties excellently. Mrs Jack McNally then presented a bouquet of flowers to the rector’s wife. Emphasising that there wasn’t a day the rector and his wife weren’t involved with the new hall. Presentations were made to them both – Mrs Colthurst received a wrapped gift, the Canon a cheque. “All I did was for the good of the parish which I hope goes from strength to strength,” said Mrs. Colthurst. Mr Patton endorsed all that had been said emphasising how hard working the Canon and his wife were. In bringing the evening to a close the Primate congratulated the Canon and the select vestry. He said the church in America put great emphasis on the ‘plant,’ the hall and it was fitting Richhill had got it’ priorities right with a service of thanksgiving in the church before moving into the new hall. The church and hall were all part of God’s business, he said. “When you meet here or in the church on God’s business may He bless you as you use this hall through the leadership of Canon and Mrs. Colthurst whom you esteem,” concluded His Grace
Taken from the Ulster Gazette.