Sports Panel Success


The Sports Panel was the brilliant brainchild of local resident and top sports writer, Nick Szczepanik. MASSIVE thanks go to him for pulling the team together and Dimbleby-ing (yes, we’re adopting that as a verb now) so splendidly.

We’re indebted to our illustrious panellists and all ‘round good eggs:

  • Mick Cleary
  • Paul Hayward
  • Pete Nichols
  • Lynne Truss
  • Paul Weaver

They answered our audience’s burning questions about sport and gave us an evening jam-packed with lively discussions, fascinating insights and amusing anecdotes.

Want to know who the nastiest people in sport are? Well, you should have come along. We can’t tell tales out of school. Want to know which sport the panellists would happily get rid of? Not many, they’re sport-mad, but Formula 1 was likened to ‘sponsored traffic’ and received the most votes.

photo(3)It wasn’t all light-hearted. Frankly, some of the current issues in sport are far from laughing matters. The panel – and audience – voiced opinions on whether Ched Evans should be allowed to continue his football career, whether corrupt competition bids should be reversed and what could be done about the lack of sports coverage, sponsorship, pay and inclusion of women in sport.

Questions and comments came thick and fast and it was clear that we could have gone all night. But sense (and licensing law) prevailed, although we’re fairly sure that conversations continued at the late night beer festival being held at The Prestonville Arms.

We’re immensely grateful to:

  • John Hoole for sponsoring the event,
  • our intrepid volunteers for making the magic happen, and
  • our guests for getting involved and ably propping up the bar.

Thanks to the BBC Top Gear team, Sussex County Cricket Club and Brighton & Hove Albion too for donating corking raffle prizes, helping us to raise much-need funds.


We’re over the moon to have hosted a fabulous, fun event and to welcome new people to the Hall, including some sports journalists of the future. And we’re thrilled that we managed to raise a thumping great £1,400, exceeding our expectations and getting our fundraising back off to a flying start after a long summer closure. Sport, beer, chat. A winning formula since time began. Thanks, team!

Christmas Window Competition


Christmas Windows Competition – it’s back!
Yes, people – it’s that time of year. Start spraying your fir cones silver and dig out the tinsel. The Christmas Window Competition is here. Compete for your chance to see your name engraved on the coveted cup and win a festive prize. Displays completed and entry forms and fivers submitted by Sunday 7 December, please. All proceeds go to renovating our lovely Hall.
Live in Prestonville? There should be an entry form dropping through your letterbox soon. But don’t worry if the dog eats it. Here’s the poster you’ll see splashed around the neighbourhood and you’ll find all the details in this downloadable entry form.
BIG thanks to kind sponsors The Green Cleaner. They’re covering all costs associated with this fabulous competition and digging deep for festive prizes. Marvellous!


French Soirée

We’re cooking up a plan for an evening at the Hall. Word on the street is that it might involve wine. And food. And having a good time. What’s not to like?

Saturday, 22nd November from 7:30pm to 10:30pm.

Three course meal and live music for £15.00 per head. Licensed bar available.

Click here to buy tickets

Building Blog

We’re feeling fairly chipper. If you look skywards as you walk down Exeter Street, you’ll see why. We’ve got a new roof. Not only does it look pretty splendid, but we’re feeling the benefits inside. We’re watertight and super-insulated, meaning that you’ll be warm and dry when you next visit. And we’ll be paying lower fuel bills to boot.

2014-10-19 14.47.25

Not only that – but when the cost of the project looked like it might escalate – we got creative. Broken and damaged tiles meant that we didn’t have enough to just renovate and replace the existing ones. But we knew that they’d be great to reuse on smaller projects. We salvaged them and sold them on. Volunteers stacked up over 11,000 of the Kent clay peg tiles and that’s helped us to save over £5000. Not bad!

Better still, whilst the money from The People’s Millions was enough to cover the large main roof, we still needed to address the smaller roof at the back of the Hall. Volunteers got stuck in and have completed the work, which would otherwise have cost us an additional £15,000. It’s been an incredible team effort.

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Our dra2014-10-29 08.43.24ins have been quite the horror story. They were badly broken and causing untold damp in the back room, rendering it unusable. Money raised from fundraising events and donations in June is putting this situation right.

Work on this badly-needed repair should be completed in the next few days meaning our back room can finally start to dry out. It also means we’ll have access to the gents toilets, although we will need some serious DIY to get them ready for use.

Got some skills?

Email to offer help!


We’ve incredibly grateful to the following people:

Our building team
We know they’re a modest bunch, but we’d like to give our volunteer building team a name check. They’ve worked their socks off on this project. From scoping the work, drawing up plans, handling the tender, supervising the contractors and getting stuck in themselves. We hope they feel justifiably proud about seeing this project through to completion. Heartfelt thanks to:

Jonathan Dall, Manolis Datseris, Richard Davies, Dave Fellows, Patrick Fitzsimons, Pete Golton, Martin Moore, and Amanda Nichols.

All our volunteers are talented. But we’ve been incredibly lucky to have an accomplished architect on the team. Manolis Datseris has worked pro bono on this project. His expertise has had a dramatic impact. Planning some architectural work? Manolis consults on residential and commercial projects, so we’ve included his contact details here.


Our building dust busters
We’re indebted to Catherine Cole and Susan Corlett who transformed the interior of the Hall, clearing up the considerable mess that a building project can create.

Our contractors
Sussex Building Services worked hard to bring the project in on budget and on time. They were creative, professional and a pleasure to do business with.

R&M Scaffolding donated the scaffolding to the Hall for free. We’re thrilled to have been given such tremendous support from a brilliant, local company.

Our neighbours
Building work involves a fair bit of movement and noise during the working week. We endeavoured to keep disruption to a minimum, but we’re very grateful to our neighbours for being so understanding.

The People’s Millions
The People’s Millions is a partnership between Big Lottery Fund and ITV. They’ve given over £27.8 million to good causes to date. The public decided to award us with £50,000 of National Lottery funding. Awesome.

Our People’s Millions campaign team
This time last year, a small team worked flat out to spread the word about our chance to win. They secured a staggering 11,325 phone votes and made our dream to replace our leaky, creaky roof a reality.

Exeter Street Hall is a community space. That means nothing happens without local engagement. And we’ve been lucky. When it comes to the crunch, people step up. So thank you for buying shares, voting for us last year, supporting events and spreading the word. Small deeds really do make a great, big difference.

It’s been great to re-open the Hall as part of the EcoOpenHouses, celebrating our efforts to restore the building and reduce its environmental impact. It’s early days, but so far we’ve replaced lighting with commercial LED units, which have cut lighting energy use by 75%. We’ve insulated the roof to tackle heat loss and inefficient old heaters have been removed and replaced with a high-level warm air unit.

2014-10-19 14.34.54For the Eco Open Houses event, we produced a roof section
highlighting the new 140mm of insulation installed in the roof.

Of course, we still have much to do. We face challenges. The Hall was woefully neglected for a long time and we can only forge on with improvements when we have the funds. Volunteers are continually seeking grants and working on fundraising events and campaigns. It’s a long-term project, but we’ve made an inspiring start.

We’d estimate that over 1000 volunteer hours have contributed to this project. We’re proud of everyone who has played their part. Thank you.

Tip-top raffle prizes


BIG thanks to our tremendously supportive raffle prize givers for our inaugural Sports Panel evening on Friday 14 November at 7.30pm at the Hall (see below). We were blown away by their generosity. Kind donations from Sussex County Cricket Club, the BBC and Brighton & Hove Albion mean that we’ve got some stellar prizes on offer. Do you live in the neighbourhood? We’ll be calling on you soon to offer you the chance to buy a raffle ticket and win one of these gems soon:

Raffle tickets will also be available on Friday 14 November when we host the best sports journalists in the biz in an entertaining Q&A session. Tickets are selling as fast as a gold medal sprinter, so book now at to secure your seat. There’ll be a licensed bar and an anecdote-packed evening.

Fancy knocking on doors, selling raffle tickets and spreading the word? You just need to contact to offer to be a street rep. We’d be ever so grateful.

Sports Panel

Friday 14 November at 7.30pm at the Hall
Tickets: £8
Concessions (unemployed / students, and anyone aged over 65): £5

We just wanted to give you the heads up. Tickets are now on sale for this show-stopping event. We have an amazing line-up of some of the best sports journalists in the business. Here’s the team sheet:

Nick Szczepanik, football reporter for The Independent on Sunday, will chair a panel including:
* Paul Hayward, multi award-winning chief sports writer of the Daily Telegraph
* Lynne Truss, former sports feature writer with The Times and author of Get Her Off The Pitch
* Mick Cleary, rugby correspondent of the Daily Telegraph
* Paul Weaver, Formula One correspondent of The Guardian and co-author of Flight of the Martlets: the Golden Age of Sussex Cricket
* Peter Nichols, writer who has covered ten Olympic Games for the Guardian, Times and Daily Telegraph.

Check out latest tweets from some of our guests here:

You can submit questions in advance or on the night. It’s set to be an entertaining evening of anecdotes and a chance to get the inside track on what makes athletes tick and what makes for a compelling news story.

We’re about to start advertising widely – so if you want to bag your seat, don’t delay. We’d love to see you there!

Book online at quick sharp!

Please do spread the word to any sports fans. Thanks!

Sponsored by John Hoole

Meet The THGI Team

Exeter Street Hall belongs to the community. We love hearing what being involved with the Hall, volunteering or your neighbourhood means to you. We’ll be featuring blog posts from our volunteers, shareholders, guests, hirers, sponsors and fellow activists. Email if you’d like to chime in with 300 words or so.

What better way to kick off than with a Hall hero? Iain Chambers has been involved from the get-go, not only contributing to the successful campaign to buy the hall, but regularly rolling up his sleeves and staging stellar events. Here’s why…


If you engaged with the Scottish referendum, and it was pretty hard not to, you’d have sensed the energy emanating from people on both sides of the issue at hand, much of it positive. I think one reason for this was the feeling that this was no time for a barely considered tick on the ballot paper, let alone opting out altogether. The subsequent unprecedented high turnout has reflected well upon Scotland and its people, young and old. This really mattered.

Now I know what you are thinking – what on earth has this to do with Exeter Street Hall? Are we planning a big vote on the colour of the front door (perhaps it could be ‘gordon’ brown?)? No, my Laboured (that’s quite enough – Ed) point is that I often feel the same energy when I’m involved with the hall. This matters. It feels like more than just saving an old but distinguished building so that the community can still meet up. It runs deeper than that. As we watch our roof being renovated, insulated and sealed against the winter weather to come, it really feels as if we are weather-proofing this community. I love living in a community that has its own street parties, dances, comedy shows, banquets and food markets. I love it that the Prestonville pub will raise money for the hall by staging beer festivals. I love it that the local schools are shareholders in our hall. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no walk in the park for everyone who makes these things happen. Yet even when I think to myself “Blimey, why did I put my name down, I’m too busy for this”, I always end up chuffed to bits when I see the results of everyone’s efforts, and when I see a hall full of my neighbours having a great time together, in the hall we all own. It makes me feel better about life, and that’s no mean feat when five minutes of listening to the news can bring me to tears.

So I would urge you to get involved to help continue the still pretty gargantuan task of renovating and running the hall. There will never be a shortage of things to do, money to raise, events to stage, loos to clean, walls to paint, cakes to bake, stalls to man, chairs to stack, quizzes to devise. We need people who can just give an hour or two washing up at an event or baking a cake just as much as we need people to take on the more involved jobs running the Community Company that owns the hall. Take my word for it, one of the most gratifying things for those of us who have been involved in the hall project for the last few years has been watching new people come forward recently to join in, lightening the load for others, and full of enthusiasm and ideas and energy. Come and join us and you never know, we might even witness unprecedented queues outside the hall next May as our community seizes its own democratic opportunity, and then ruminates over the unfolding results well into the evening in our lovely, warm, dry hall!