news and updates

renovations and upgrades


The programme of renovations and upgrades continues to deliver improvements with the latest wave now complete.
This includes the new history cupboard and display area with coffee machine and milk fridge, soft furnishings and tables, and complete renovation of the disabled loo and new door. With the CCTV to monitor entrances, we are now able to open the Reading Room on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for unsupervised use as Helmdon’s Living Room. Self-service tea and coffee is available (suggested donation £1), and there’s access to the book and DVD libraries and a selection of magazines on the history cupboard.
Come and take advantage of this tranquil space to relax and socialise at your leisure.

budapest cafe orchestra - playing live


This talented and fun band of musicians are appearing in the Reading Room on Sunday February 25th at 7pm.

They have played in Helmdon in the past and have been rapturously received. They play a variety of culturally interesting music in a fun way which makes for a great night out. Children welcome too.

Tickets are £20 each and can purchased by calling or messaging Steve on 07905 336451 or emailing [email protected]

Village Christmas Lunch


Wednesday 6th December @ 12:30


Angela Goodall and some wonderful volunteers are planning on putting on a Christmas Lunch for the village.

Following the success of the Easter Lunch in April we thought it would be a great opportunity for people to get together to kick off the Christmas season.

There will be a roast turkey dinner, a choice of desserts or cheese and biscuits and a glass of wine or soft drink for £12 per person. We will have Christmas music, a raffle and a quick festive quiz and Father Christmas will pop in as well.

Please let Angela know by 1st December – there is a sign up form on the notice board in the Reading Room or please email Angela on [email protected]

CCTV now operational


The Reading Room has now been fitted with a CCTV system that monitors all access routes into the building. These have been installed as part of the  trustees ongoing plans to make the Reading Room a more secure and accessible space and will allow the building to be opened more often for free use of the space for socialising, working and relaxing.
Cameras are located in the small entrance foyer covering the front door, the kitchen covering the kitchen fire escape and garage doors, and the extension covering the accessible door/fire escape. These record images once motion is detected for a short period and do not record sound. They are not intended to monitor activities within the hall. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

october Newsletter


The October edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list this week. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

renovations and upgrades


The programme of renovations and upgrades continues to deliver improvements with the latest wave now complete. This includes the built-in chair and table storage cupboard and carpet tiles in the extension, exposure of the Victorian fireplaces (previously boarded up), replacement of the old fire door in the rear of the building and the sliding door to the kitchen, and many maintenance tasks.

windows cleaned


The trustees rolled up their collective sleeves this Sunday and armed with buckets, cloths and plenty of glass cleaner attacked the task with vigour. Sustained by bacon sandwiches and coffee, and aided by several ladders and power tools, the double glazing panels were removed and cleaned both sides, and the leaded windows cleaned on the inside. In a little over 4 hours, the 8-strong team completed the job and a brighter Reading Room main hall can now be appreciated by all.

reading room Barn dance - cracking fun!


Much fun was had at the barn dance last night by young and old(er) last night. The caller was very funny and knew exactly how to get us all dancing and even made time for some of the kids to try playing his accordion. Please do consider joining us next time to get the numbers up – you won’t regret it!

reading room Barn dance


Please join us for a night of dancing and laughter at the Reading Room Barn Dance on the 2nd September from 18:00 – 20:00. All welcome, drinks and nibbles will be available.
For tickets contact us by email at [email protected] or call Morag on 01295 768922



Live in the Reading Room on SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST (Doors open @ 19.30)

 Tickets £15 from [email protected] or contact Steve on 07905 336451



During the HCF trustees meeting, Phillip gave an update on the improvements and developments to the Reading Room over the last year and an overview of plans for the next 12 months:

'Helmdon's Living Room'

1. The use of the Reading Room has changed a lot since it was first gifted to the village. Initially
designed to keep working men out of the pubs, over the years it has become Helmdon’s
Village Hall, a venue available for clubs, societies and private individuals to rent for their
activities and events. In more recent years t has adapted to extend the range of possible
activities by the provision of a well equipped kitchen and comprehensive stage lighting for

2. The process of change and adaptation can never stop. The CoVid pandemic accelerated
changes already underway as traditional clubs and societies with regular programmes of
activity lost members and the capabilities of home entertainment have blossomed. The
Trustees have wanted for some time to encourage new, more casual uses, and broaden the
user base to a wider age group who may not want to commit to traditional regular activities.
The Reading Room needs to be made more appealing to more people. At one point we coined
the idea that it could be seen as Helmdon’s Living Room.

3. To bring an idea to life needs a plan and a lot of funding. Encouraged by the award of grants
related to business rates during the pandemic, an architect was briefed to offer suggestions
for how we could think about the uses of the room and how it could be made both user
friendly and attractive. The Trustees have drawn on her ideas to plan a series of
improvements, including some which our own knowledge of the Reading Room identified.

4. Comfort
We have replaced the old uncomfortable and heavy chairs with new lighter weight
ones. The old chairs have been donated to Helmdon and another local church. With the help
of a grant from West Northants Council, we plan to make the extension more appealing by
carpeting it and providing more informal seating to provide a “warm space” that people can
use to meet socially and share a hot drink, especially during the winter. We have also installed
opening windows to allow fresh air into the hall – and heat out- during the summer.

5. Access
A new rear fire door going to be ordered which should improve access to those with wheelchairs,
buggies and walking frames. It will have a glass panel to improve visibility and will no
longer let in drafts, saving energy. 

6. Running Costs
Energy has always been one of the biggest costs of running the Reading Room
and the biggest element of our carbon footprint. We have two projects to address this. The
inefficient hot water tank has been replaced by a smaller and more efficient hot water system
paid for by the grant from Thrive. We have also secured a grant from the Bernard Sunley
Foundation to contribute to the cost of installing solar panels and a battery to cut our
electricity bills. These should be fitted this summer and produce particular benefits next
winter. A question will arise shortly about the future of the oil boiler, but this is not part of the
current improvement programme.

7. Storage
New cupboards have been created to store the new chairs, tables and childrens’
bean bags. Additional storage is being planned to meet new needs such as for the
Community Larder, the resources of the History Society and a possible local information hub.

8. Appearance
The ground has been laid for further improvements by moving all radiator
capacity to one wall freeing up space which could be use for displays, exhibitions and
improved notice boards. This also allows for the old fashioned fluorescent lighting and the
high level pipework to be removed and modern adaptable lighting systems to be introduced.
Once these works are complete a redecoration will be required.

9. Other Works
Some other projects are being looked at. The plastic folding door between the
Hall and the extension could be replaced with wooden bifold doors. An infra-red heating unit
could be installed in the Committee Room to allow that to be hired without the need to turn on
the heating system for the whole hall. The toilets could be up-graded. A closed circuit
television system is being investigated to see whether it will be possible to leave the Reading
Room open more generally for casual use without direct supervision.

10. In addition to the main improvements the Trustees are undertaking a programme of minor
maintenance and safety work: removing moss from the paths and roofs, replacing broken airbricks,
and removing defunct equipment. We would welcome ideas and suggestions for other
improvements or repairs and ideas about the new decor.

11. Funding In addition to the specific grants already mentioned, we have been successful in
securing a significant grant from HS2 in recognition of the impact the development is having
on Helmdon. We are grateful to all our funders for what it is allowing us to achieve.

12. People
All these projects are being overseen by the small group of Trustees (maximum of 9). If
you are interested in helping in the future development of the Reading Room, either as a
Trustee or as a volunteer. Please contact us through or by email at
[email protected]

June Newsletter


The June edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list this week. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

Helmdon Community foundation AGM


The trustees of the HCF will be holding their annual general meeting in the Reading Room on the 14th June, starting at 19:30.

We’d love to see you there, to tell you about the performance of the charity, all the changes to the building we’ve made this year and our plans to develop the Reading Room further over the next 12 months.

All are welcome.

We are currently looking for two new trustees to join the team. If you’re interested and would like to find out more, please get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you.

The 'big help out' day


Monday 8th May is the Big Help Out Day.
The village really needs volunteers to make things happen throughout the year and we would like as many people as possible to sign up to providing occasional help and support for events and/ or people.
Please come along to the Reading room to sign up on Monday morning between 10 and 12, or email your details to [email protected].

The king's coronation


Saturday 6th May is the King’s coronation and the event will be streamed live on the big screen in the Reading room between 10am and 1pm; the ceremony starts at 11am. Please come along to join in. There will be bunting, sandwiches, cake, fizz, hot drinks and soft drinks and an opportunity to make your own crown!!
There will be a small charge.

may Newsletter


The May edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list this week. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

reading room improvements and renovations


What’s Going on in the Reading Room?

Users of the Reading Room can’t have missed the fact that something is going on, but they may not have picked up how much is planned and why.

Changing Uses for the Reading Room
For many years, the Reading Room has been seen as a venue that people could hire and use for
clubs, society and private events. Recently, and especially since the CoVid pandemic, things have
been changing. There have been fewer regular society meetings and more informal activities like
the book swap, the Community Larder and the Thursday soup lunches.

Recently the Council has recognised the Reading Room as a “warm space” – somewhere people can go to be warm, mix with others and save on their own heating bills. They have given a grant to help us make the space more welcoming. The Trustees want to encourage this informal use and hope to be able to have the Reading Room open more often.

Options for Change
You may have seen last year the suggestions made by an architect for ways the Reading Room could be improved to meet a wider range of uses and the Trustees have started a project to pick up on some of these and other ideas. Some of the main ones are:

New Chairs
We have replaced all of the old heavy chairs with new lighter weight ones which will be stored in cupboards to make the extension tidier and a more attractive space for people to rent. The old chairs have been passed on to local churches in Helmdon and Everdon Warm Space. We plan to put carpet tiles in the extension along with some comfortable chairs to make an informal space that people can use to meet friends in the warm.

More Space for Users
Also in the extension we are looking to provide more storage for the different groups using the Reading Room, like the guides and the history group.

Getting In and Out
We want to improve the process of getting in and out of the Reading Room. The door into the main hall opens outwards and onto a step making it very awkward, especially for those who need a baby buggy or walking sticks. We will change the door so that it opens inwards and fit a glass panel in the top half so that people can see if anyone is on the other side.

The back door into the extension is very leaky and can only be opened from the inside. Since this is the entrance for those with restricted mobility or wheelchairs we are replacing the door with a draft- proof metal door which can be opened from the outside and will also have
a glass panel.
We are also replacing the internal sliding door from the hall to the kitchen with one that works.

Improving Ventilation
As well as keeping heat in during the winter, we want to be able to let heat out in our warmer summers. At present there are no nopening windows in the main Hall or the Extension. We have ordered new ones that will open to let fresh air in when we need it.

Saving Energy
To cut down on energy use – and the running costs of the Reading Room we have replaced the old hot water tanks with a new water
heater under the kitchen sink and we have added insulation to those parts of the roof space that had none.
We will also fit solar panels to the roof and install a battery so that we can cut down on our electricity usage, make some income from selling any excess generation and take advantage of cheap off peak electricity rates.
Improving the Main Hall
In the main hall we will be having the oak floor sanded and re-sealed.
We have relocated the radiators so that one long wall can be used for displays and exhibitions, possibly including more space for notices and information about village events.

Supporting the Community Larder
The Community Larder has proved a popular addition to the facilities for the village. They have asked if there could be a freezer in the Reading Room so that they can offer chilled and frozen foods too. We are looking to rearrange things in the kitchen to allow that and investigating other storage options too.

General Maintenance
We have a long list of general maintenance jobs, which we are working through giving priority to things which have safety implications, like painting the edges of steps and clearing moss. As well as repairing flaking paint in the kitchen.

How is this being paid for?
Over the last few years the Reading Room has been able to build up a fund mainly from payments received during the CoVid pandemic. It is not enough to cover all the work we would like to do, but it has been enough to get us started. We have also been applying for grants from various
places, which we hope will be successful and allow us to keep making progress. So far we have received grants from Thrive – a renewable energy company for energy efficiency improvements and from West Northants Council for our warm space project. We are continuing to apply to others – like HS2 – to keep up the work and hopefully allow us to do some other things on our wish list.

Contact Us
If you would like any more information, have suggestions for other improvements, or better still would be willing to help with the improvement work, enabling us to keep the room open for longer or joining the Trustees please contact us by speaking to Morag Underwood or emailing us at [email protected]

march Newsletter


The March edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list today. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

reading room closure


The Reading Room will be closed for renovation works from 12:00 on the 10th Feb to 12:00 on the 13th Feb. The book swap will NOT be accessible on Saturday 11th.

This is to allow plumbers to relocate heating pipes, remove old radiators and relocate and install new higher efficiency ones.

Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Helmdon together meeting


We are very lucky to have Bryony Norbury coming to give a talk on Bletchley Park at our meeting on Weds, 15th Feb.  Bryony works at the University of Buckingham and wrote her Phd thesis on the women of Bletchley Park. Some of their incredible stories date back to 1914.

As usual, the doors will open at 7pm, with the talk starting promptly at 7.30pm.  Wine, beer and soft drinks will be on sale.  There is no charge for members and a charge of £5 for non-members.

We greatly look forward to welcoming you then.

January Newsletter


The January edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list today. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

november newsletter


The November edition of the Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list today. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

Soup kitchen


2022 Reading Room Advent window unveild


The Reading Room’s 2022 advent window was unveiled this evening at the the traditional Christmas eve event with Christmas crackers, and mulled wine and mince pies served inside to warm the cockles.
A huge thanks to the sewing club for making the window look so lovely.

October Newsletter


The first edition of the new Reading Room update newsletter was sent out to our distribution list today. If you are interested in receiving this as an email when the next copy is released, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to the group.

Police drop in surgery


Our local constabulary are going to be holding a drop in surgery in the Reading Room between 11:00 and 13:00 this Saturday, 9th July, and they would love to see as many of us there as possible. Please pop in to see you there.

Helmdon Summer festival results


The Helmdon festival has been a great success with well over 300 people join us and the sun blessed us with a glorious (if windy) summers day. A big thank you to all those involved in planning and executing a fantastic day of fun, food and music for all the family. 

The count up of money taken on the day has now been completed and we are super pleased to announce that £1,078 profit was raised! A massive thank you to everyone who attended. We are donating £75 to Acorns, £75 to Helmdon School and £100 to the Helmdon Sports club and keeping the rest ready to pay deposits for the Summer Ball which is planned to return in its full glory next year. Watch this space for updates.


Three new HCF trustees appointed

Please join the existing trustees in welcoming Gary Turner, Andy Harris and Kayleigh Clare to the HCF board. With these excellent additions, the charity management team is now at full strength. Check out the trustees and constitution page for more information about the board members.

hcf annual general meeting agenda

15/06/2022 Helmdon Community Foundation CIO Meeting to be held on Thursday 16th June 2022 at 7.45pm in the Reading Room


  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting held on 2nd September 2021
  3. Matters arising from the minutes
  4. Chairman’s annual report
  5. Treasurer’s annual report
  6. Update on constitution
  7. Discussion re Architects ideas for updating the Reading Room and consideration of energy saving ideas.
  8. Discussion re adding the sale of alcohol to our Premises Licence
  9. Any other business

HCF - trustees needed for the reading room

The Reading Room is a great asset to Helmdon. Keeping it in good condition and making sure it can met our changing needs requires a dedicated team with a range of experience and interests. We need people who understand how to manage and update buildings, people in touch with different age groups, or those with marketing and communication skills.

If you think you have something you can offer to help the Reading Room continue to provide what the village needs, please get in touch by emailing [email protected] or contacting Morag Underwood before 24 June.

If you are not sure, please come along to the Trustees AGM on 16 June at 19:45 – where we will be discussing updating the Reading Room, you can meet the existing Trustees and ask any questions you may have.


helmdon community foundation (HCF) -
annual general meeting

The trustees of the charitable foundation responsible for looking after and running the Reading Room will be holding their annual general meeting on the 16th June starting at 19:45. Please do come along to find out how the foundation is performing, details on investments made into the building over the last year and what plans are in progress for the coming year.

On a related note, the foundation currently has vacancies for three trustees which we are anxious to fill. If you would like to find out more about what being a trustee entails, or already know and would like to put forward your official application, then please get in touch with us at [email protected] or call us on 07521 953972. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Reading Room Update Ideas - Architect consultation

The Reading Room is a cherished old building but the needs it has to meet and what people expect of it are changing.

The Trustees asked a local architect with a lot of experience in updating community buildings to take a good look at the Reading Room and make suggestions for how it could be changed to make it more welcoming and practical.

There is now a display in the Reading Room showing the process she went through and the ideas she came up with. We are now looking to see what Helmdon residents and users of the Reading Room think of her suggestions and since we may not be able to afford to do all of them, which ones you would give priority to.

In addition to her ideas, the Trustees are considering other suggestions like replacing the back fire door with a modern door that can be opened from the outside to give level access for wheelchairs, buggies and those who can’t manage steps. We are also looking at ways to make the Reading Room more energy efficient so that we can keep the cost of running it manageable for the future. As well as physical changes we are looking for ways we can have the Reading Room open more often for casual use.

Please have a look at the display or let us know what you think about any of the suggestions and any other ideas you have by emailing [email protected] or by leaving your ideas in the box in the Reading Room.

new course starting soon - book now!

A new course is going to be starting on the 15th Feb and will be running fortnightly between until the 12th April 2022.

Looking at the earliest evidence of the arts, through to more recent times. We will mainly be considering art and architecture, bit will also touch on literature and music, listening to Spanish composers at the beginning and end of each session.

Course fees of £41 may apply. To enrol call 03003033464 and quote course reference: C2346545

Helmdon Festival Grand Draw Winners

01/09/2021 Congratulations to our Helmdon Festival Grand Draw prize winners:
  • Nigel Hughes
  • Vanessa Vicars
  • Hugh Walmsley
  • Stuart Turner
Emails have been sent to let you know you have won a £25 cash prize, if you have not already collected it, please contact us and we’ll arrange to get it to you.

Supporting Local companies

Thanks to all the local companies who came to run stands and provide free services at the festival. Below are their names and links to their respective websites should you wish to contact any of them.

DogBox Fitness 07496 432835

The Festival is finally here!

So after nearly 5 months of planning, a complete reschedule and several changes to the events team, the Helmdon Festival has finally happened! Whilst the weather did not turn in its finest performance, we were spared any rain and the day proceeded as planned. A great time seemed to be had by all, with a really good turn out. Thanks to everyone who helped to make the day a total success and to all who came along to enjoy it. Below are a selection of photos submitted by various people who were there. If anyone has more pictures from the day that they would like to share, please email them in to [email protected] – we’d love to add them to the album.

Helmdon Festival - final preparations

With the weather looking promisingly good on Monday, final preparations are now underway for the festival (screen shot courtesy of BBC Weather).

The photo booth will feature fairy forest and space ship backdrops with plenty of dressing up outfits and props for the kids.

Drinks for the evening’s adult disco will now be available from the Fat Landlord all evening.


Helmdon Festival - programme of events

The programme of events and stalls for the day of the festival is now available. Subject to last minute changes, this is what you can expect to find on the absolutely-guaranteed-to-be-nice-weather* bank holiday Monday.

* except if it rains

Helmdon Festival - new headline act

Announcing the new headline act to open the Helmdon Festival in the Reading Room on August 29th @ 19:30 – The Joanna Eden Band

Joanna Eden’s band combines the energy and rhythmic virtuosity of Latin music with the intimacy and honesty of Eden’s original songs. They have supported The Buena Vista Social Club, Omara Portundo, Jamie Cullum and Van Morrison.

Bassist – Andres Lafone (Airto Moriera, Snowboy, Matt Bianco)
Percussionist – Carlos Fuentes (John Williams, Juan De Marcos Gonzalez)
Multi-Instrumentalist – Gerry Hunt (Loose Tubes, King Salsa, Robert Pia)

Tickets are £16 and selling fast, so contact the booking office on 01295 768922, or contact us to request yours today.

“Melody, mystery& bite” Mojo, “Seek her out!” Sir Michael Parkinson,”The reason I sing” Sam Smith, “Seriously talented vocalist” Jazz Journal

Helmdon Festival - full steam ahead

Planning for the Helmdon Festival on August Bank Holiday, Monday 3oth is full steam ahead, with new bands being sourced for the evening of the 29th August and during the day of the 30th and a larger number of stalls than previously planned. Good weather is, again, on pre-order.

To date, we have received very few entries into the free prize draw, so if you want to join those who currently have a 50% chance of winning £25, please visit the Helmdon Festival page to sign up for entry. Not only do you stand to win a prize, but having your contact details enables us to help the Reading Room thrive by notifying you of up and coming events and classes.

Budapest cAFE oRCHESTRA - streaming live


The concert by the Budapest Cafe Orchestra on 2 July will now also be available as a live streamed event. Tickets are on sale for the reduced price of £10 – please email us at [email protected] to request tickets.

Helmdon Festival - date change

The date of the HELMDON FESTIVAL has had to be changed following the extension of the CoVid rules. Some of what was planned could have gone ahead but key parts of the plans would not have been possible. The new date will be August Bank Holiday, Monday 3oth. Please make a note in your diary.

The concert by the Budapest Cafe Orchestra on 2 July does seem to be allowed – with proper precautions- and will go ahead as planned.

Also, if you’ve not done so already, please do visit the Helmdon Festival page to sign up for entry to our free prize draw. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Trustee needed

The Helmdon Community Foundation are now looking for someone to become a trustee alongside the existing 5 members. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us.

Helmdon presents... the budapest cafe orchestra

On Friday 2nd July at 19:30, the Budapest Cafe Orchestra will kick off the Helmdon Festival with an evening of eclectic music. They are a four-piece band touring extensively around Great Britain and we are the second venue on their tour! The BCO redeliver Balkan and Russian traditional gypsy and folk music in their own fresh surprising way. Admired for their artful distillations of masterpieces by the great Romantic composers.
“The music is magic in their hands.” Sean Rafferty, BBC Radio 3.

Tickets are £16 each and can be purchased by emailing [email protected] or by submitting a contact form with your ticket requests.

Helmdon Festival plans are full steam head

Plans for the forthcoming Helmdon Festival to be held on the 3rd July are coming along well with the Fat Landlord, Acorns, the Friends of the Church and WI all on board to provide entertainments and stalls.

Arrangements for bands for during the day and in the evening of the festival are still in progress, so check back regularly for updates…

new website under development

In preparation for the ‘relaunch’ of the Reading Room once the current Covid restrictions start to lift, the newly formed Helmdon Community Foundation are launching several initiatives to raise its profile and usage, including building a brand new website. Watch this space for new features, upcoming events and news

The Remarkable Arts of Spain
19:00 – 20:00 fortnightly – running from 15 Feb 2022 to 12th April 2022

Course Reference: C2346545

Looking at the earliest evidence of the arts, through to more recent times. We will mainly be considering art and architecture, bit will also touch on literature and music, listening to Spanish composers at the beginning and end of each session.

Course fees of £41 may apply. To enrol call 03003033464 and quote the course reference.