Thornham residents were “honoured” today when the Queen paid an unofficial visit to open their new village hall.
Children waved flags and crowds cheered as Her Majesty arrived to congratulate villagers on their new £640,000 community facility.
The Queen was given a tour of the bright, modern building, and she spoke with residents who helped turn a five-year development plan into reality.
“Her Majesty really enjoyed the visit,” said John Warham, chair of Thornham Village Hall and Playing Field Ltd.
“She saw a display showing the development of the field over the last seven years, from when it was growing turnips to getting a sports field, children’s play area and now the new village hall.
“She spoke to some of the older residents and she spent some time with the BagLadies of Thornham, who over the last six or seven years have raised £30,000 for village projects.”
Colin Venes, chair of the Thornham Village Hall Committee, added: “We were absolutely delighted that her majesty agreed to come and open the hall. The village was honoured and we were delighted at how it went and how long she stayed to speak with us.
“She spoke to so many people in the hall, she spoke to some of the elderly residents, she engaged with the children, it was an absolute delight.”
The Queen was given with a green recycled bag from the BagLadies, a Photographic History of Thornham book and a posey of flowers presented by four-year-old Seth Clarkson.
His mum, Louise Howell, the hall’s marketing and publicity officer, said: “Seth has been involved at every stage of the hall’s development, so we jumped at the chance when we were asked if he’d like to present flowers to the Queen. He’d been practicing what he was going to say for ages but I think he got a bit nervous and didn’t say anything, but he still did really well. It was a very proud moment.”
Crowds outside the hall included the whole of Brancaster Primary School, with pupils spending the day before the visit making flags to wave.
Headteacher Sarah Bocking said: “We are all very excited to be here today, and we will be going back and talking about the visit in our lessons.
“It’s nice that as the Queen has connections with this area that the children can come and do things like this.”
Pupils Kiera McGinn, 9, and ten-year-olds Harvey Keeling and Chloe Groom, said they were “really excited” to see the Queen for the first time, and had their phones and cameras ready to take photos.
Villager Tony Parr said: “It’s very exciting for the village and we are very fortunate to have the Queen come to open our magnificent new facility.”
Villagers spent years raising money for the new hall, which was built to replace Thornham’s aging Drill Hall on the Ringstead Road.
They were also awarded a £475,000 lottery grant, along with contributions from local councils, towards the cost of the building, which opened its doors for use in September.
It offers a function room/venue for up to 250 people, meeting room, WiFi, kitchen, and changing rooms for the village football and cricket teams.
Activities include a soup and sandwich club for elderly people in and around the village, while the village heritage society will be staging an exhibition of photographs of Thornham in the hall next month.