HOME Secretary Priti Patel visited a village hall to support a major fundraising campaign to replace it.

The MP visited Tolleshunt D’Arcy Village Hall on Friday to see for herself how badly it needs to be replaced with a new purpose-built village hall.

Former chief executive of Maldon District Council Fiona Marshall hosted the visit with Essex Deputy Chief Constable Charles Clark and Robert Morgan, who is part of the Tolleshunt D’Arcy village hall working group.

The group will need to raise £870,000 to demolish and replace the entire building.

Ms Patel said: “From what I have seen today, it is quite clear that the building is in a poor state and badly needs to be replaced.

“Every village needs a focal point and gathering place that it can be proud of, but the present village hall falls well short of the standard required.

“The fundraising campaign has my full support and I will be doing my best to put the Tolleshunt D’Arcy village hall working group in touch with the right people.

The MP added: “I hope everyone will get behind this very worthy cause.”

Ms Patel was shown how the building, which is more than 100 years old, has deteriorated and, in particular, the poor state of the flooring, and other areas where rot has taken hold.

The working group, which consists of 14 residents, hopes to secure a substantial grant from the National Lottery, with the balance coming from other funding sources and local donors.

An initial application to the Lottery has been turned down for now because the current funding priority is for smaller grants.

However, the application has been described by the Lottery as “strong” and in line with its funding priorities, with substantial evidence of community consultation and strong local support.

Mr Clark said: “The Tolleshunt D’Arcy village hall working group and the wider community recognise the significant challenge we face in seeking to raise the estimated £870,000 required for the project.

“We greatly appreciate Priti’s support for our fundraising campaign and her taking the time to visit today to see for herself why we need a new village hall – a hall capable of providing a focal point for community life as well as a wide range of services and activities for all ages and interests.”