Action in rural Sussex bids a fond farewell to Louise Beaton OBE

Louise Beaton is retiring from her role as Consultant Community Halls Adviser for AirS, this month, though gradually completing the work for halls for which she is already committed as she hands over to Robert Horn who has been appointed as AiRS new Village halls Advisor.  Louise has been with AirS since 2000, first as Village Halls Adviser and then as a consultant. She has also provided support for the ACRE Network village halls services nationally, which she will continue to do as a trustee of ACRE and through remaining on the Sussex Community Buildings Advisory Group (SCBAG), so will not lose touch completely. She is also writing a book about the history of village halls nationally, which was delayed by Covid.    She has asked us to share with you how very much she has enjoyed working with so many dedicated people, helping you deliver the facilities your community needs, and that she could not have done so without the help, experience and support of the fabulous volunteers who form SCBAG, and particularly Chairman Alan West and, his predecessor, David Robins.”

Louise Beaton after receiving her OBE from Princess Anne earlier this month


Alan West, Chairman of SCBAG and Ringmer Village Hall reminisces on working with Louise over the years

I first met Louise in 2009 at a conference for volunteers running village halls. Her outstanding ability to encourage others to be involved resulted in me being voted on to the executive and ultimately Chairman of the National Village Hall Forum. Over the subsequent years, I have had the pleasure of working with Louise on many issues persuading national and local government officers and the elected representatives to give support to village / community halls and rural communities.

Rural village halls are at the heart of the community; Louise recognises this and worked hard to ensure that no village hall need close because of a lack of volunteers. She has worked with the communities to find volunteers to take on the Trustee role – it is not only finding the volunteers that is important, but Louise also ensured they are aware of their responsibilities.

As chairman of the Sussex Community Building Advisory Group, I have relied on Louise to ensure that the group are at the forefront of understanding, giving feedback and implementing changes in legislation that may impact on village and community halls.

Village and community halls are businesses run by volunteers with good intentions, but the complexity of current law and new laws can have unintended consequences. Without the scrutiny and input of Louise, there would undoubtedly be legislation that made life more difficult for volunteers.

Over many years, Louise has supported and given advice in a manner in which the recipient can have complete confidence. It is my privilege to have worked with her and I wish her well for the future.

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”