For weeks the Silver Rebels had heard rumours that there were plans to close the village hall and develop the land. As they were having breakfast Katie came bursting through the door shouting “Grandad they are going to pull down the village hall. Before, Katie could finish her sentence, her grandad and the other Silver Rebels ran out of the dining room, leaving Katie on her own.
The village hall was where they had their tea dance every Wednesday and Friday afternoon, where their grandchildren went to playgroup, youth group and scouts, where their daughters met for coffee and dance, cooking, art and dressmaking classes. Katie, managed to catch up with her grandad and the Silver Rebels just before the village hall and all were very shocked by what they discovered there.
There large as life was a “land for sale” sign. One of the women silver rebels said that the village hall had been there since 1860. One of the biker silver rebels asked her if she remembered it being built. Everyone laughed and laughed even louder when she pulled his ear hard. They decided to go back to the home and work out what to do, but honestly, everyone was worried they would lose their village hall.
When they told the rest of the residents about the village hall, they were really angry. Everyone loved the village hall, it was their highlight of the week going there for the tea dances. "Mind you, you are 95 now and you still can't dance." said Thelma to her husband. That made her sad, as it was Thelma's wish to have one proper dance with her husband and now the village hall was going, it would never happen.
After a couple of hours of talking, Katie’s grandad took her to the garden and told her that they had a plan. Part one of the plan was to stage a sit in at the village hall, one of the Silver Rebels ladies, cleaned at the hall, so had some keys. A husband and wife team were wizard on social media and were going to start a campaign to save the village hall and also crowd funding. They both giggled and went back in.
As they sat in the lounge, old Albert asked “where do we find these crowds and won’t they mind us asking for money, I mean it’s a bit rude, just walking up to someone and ask them for money.” Those who knew what crowd funding was, giggled, but grandad noticed there was a lot of blank faces too. So he asked the husband of the couple who knew all about computers, to explain it to the others.
“Well erm, erm, in simple terms, crowdfunding is a way of raising money for a project, by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people.” Said Greg, without even looking up from his computer. “So, once we find out who actually owns the land and how much they want, we can start crowdfunding.” Continued Greg. “Well I have my pension.” Said Old Albert and they all cheered.
So, then General pipes up, well we need a battle plan, we need to storm the council offices at night, over power the enemy and get the documents from the safe. Everyone went quiet, then Betty said “Yes, general we can do that or we could ask Carol here, who works in the records department to look at the files when she goes to work on Monday.” Everyone burst out laughing including the General and he agrees it is a better plan.
It was Carol’s last week at the records office, because she was retiring, she had been there for almost 40 years. Nobody really noticed her, as she had never got on with technology, so now she worked in an office alone on the historical documents. She did not mind as she loved history. During the lunch break, while the office was quiet, she had a look at the files and wrote down the information.
They waited for Carol and when she arrived, there was not much she could tell them, apart from the fact the land had been valued at £300,000, the name of the company who owned it and a survey which had been carried out. “Thank you Carol, I can research that now,” said Greg and went to work. Grandad phoned Katie and told her, she replied “oh, grandad that’s a lot of money.”
Next day when Katie was at school, she told her friends, many who used the village hall, they were truly shocked. “We have to do something to help,” said John. John was a scout and a number of his mates were too. They loved being scouts and enjoyed meeting once a week. “My mum loves going to dance classes,” added Jane. They all agreed that they needed to help, but were not sure how too.
Katie went on to tell them what the General wanted to do, everyone knew the General and they all laughed. “Yes, that’s the General,” said John laughing. She went onto to tell them about the crowd funding and that Greg had set up the crowd funding, they all asked for the net address and got out their phones and started to contact their friends. Katie loved her friends, they had big hearts.
The mums were having their usual coffee morning in the hall, every day the doors were opened at 9 for the mums to drop in. It had become a vital part of the village for the mums. After hearing about what was happening and what the Silver Rebels and the children were doing, they wanted to do their part too. Tracey was a solicitor and was having a year off, but she was going to research the sale.
The next Saturday all the groups decided to meet up and catch up on their progress. They decided to meet in the village hall. Katie and her grandad were shocked when they arrived, “grandad, I never knew so many people live in the village,” said Katie. “People have come from all over, they want to help,” replied grandad. Katie stood for a moment, had a tear in her eye and was so proud of the village.
However, the news was not good from Tracey and Greg, Tracey had found that the sale was totally legal and Greg had discovered there were 2 development companies interested in buying the land. Grandad asked how the crowdfunding was going, Greg replied it was going okay and to-date had raised over £10,000. Tracey went onto say that in 7 days all bids had to be in.
Old Albert was quietly sitting there, listening to everything being said. Then slowly stood up and said “well they can’t sell it, if I am in the hall and I am not leaving until we have the hall for us.” The hall went quiet, then everyone started to clap and grandad said “well friends the sit in has begun, we need to organise ourselves, who is with Albert?” Everyone stood up and said as one “Me.” Then they began to chant “go Albert, go Albert.”
So, over the weekend, they organised themselves, everything from bedding to food. The General was in his element, as he was given the job of security. They had to stop him at one stage, as he brought his horse in and wanted to lead the sit-in mounted on his horse. It took 6 of them to get the horse out, as they could not stop laughing. By Sunday night everything was done and to celebrate they organised a meal for everyone. It was lovely to see all ages working together.
Suddenly there was a lot of noise from the kitchen, two of the Silver Rebels were fighting over whose pie was to be served first. The retired chef didn’t help by saying he liked both of them. It ended up with the chef wearing both the pies on his head and him coming out and explaining that dinner would be 30 minutes late. Everyone looked at him and laughed, they knew he had tried to get between the cooking sisters.
After the meal, those were staying started to settle down and the others left. A rota had been worked out, so there would always be 20 people in the hall. The General went to the toilets to brush his teeth, when he came out, the lights were already out and he fell over Old Albert who was already in his sleeping bag. The General shouted “alarm, alarm” and everyone shouted “go to sleep General” and giggled.
They were woken by keys in the lock, it was old Joe, he was a local farmer and warden for the village hall. Not sure who was more surprised old Joe or the people sleeping in the hall. Everyone jumped and old Joe said, “what are you all doing here?” Old Joe’s wife who was part of the sit-in came forward and said “Joe, give me the keys and go and tell the council there is a sit-in.” Old Joe loved his wife, so, just nodded, passed her the keys and went out.
Just as he was about to leave, he turned to tell his wife something, but she told him to hurry and tell the council, they were there. He mumbled and started off to the council offices via his farm as he needed to give his cows their breakfast first. He decided he would tell her later what he knew about the village hall, once he got back, that’s of course if she allowed him to get a word in.
Greg came over to grandad and Katie and said a local reporter had just called and wanted to film an interview with their spokesman. “We haven’t got a spokesman," said Greg. So, everyone agreed grandad should be the spokesman. Grandad agreed and decided he needed a coffee before they arrived. “As I am a celebrity now, do I get a slice of cake as well?” said grandad to the ladies serving coffee. “Let us think, no, celebrity indeed” was the reply and everyone burst out laughing.
After the interview grandad came back in and told everyone it went really well and would be on the lunchtime news. As he sat there one of the cooking sisters came over, with a pen and notepad, “I see, now I am a celebrity, you would like my autograph,” said grandad.” She looked at grandad, smiled and replied “No, my pen does not work and I need a pen to write today’s menu, celebrity really !!!!!” The whole village hall roared with laughter and grandad laughed the loudest.
Just then, Katie came in and said “grandad I thought it was you, who was being interviewed.” Grandad replied “Katie, they have just finished interviewing me.” Katie went on to tell her grandad that Old Joe was outside right now giving an interview and there was a lot of excitement over what he was saying. “What my Joe?” said Joe’s wife and with that they all went outside to see.
It’s okay having a sit-in and doing this crowdfunding thing, but no one asked me about the hall and my bats. There have been bats in the roof, for as long as the hall has been standing. They are not any old bat, there are very rare and are a protected species. I have a copy of the protection order for the bats which was issued 10 years ago. Anyone who buys this land, can’t develop on it, no one is going to hurt my bats.
Within a week, the sale was withdrawn and the council gave the village hall to the village. Old Joe was the hero of the hour. The money raised through crowdfunding was used to do repairs on the hall and run the hall. The Silver Rebels were a little disappointed as they all never got the chance to experience the sit-in but were so happy that the village hall was saved. Old Joe’s bats really had saved the day.