When I left HSBC in 2000, I came across DART while doing volunteer work with the Ryton credit union. I became involved with DART for a number of years as a volunteer.
After leaving HSBC I wasn’t exactly sure which direction my career would go and decided to have a years career break. I saw a local advertisement in the local paper looking for volunteers with the Ryton Credit union. Every Saturday morning I used to go in and help for a few hours, taking money and registering onto a sheet.
About Christmas time I was asked by somebody to come out and carol sing at South Anston old people’s home and around a number of local pubs and venues. I enjoyed my night out and started to become involved with Dinnington Area Regeneration Trust (D.A.R.T). DART had been originally created by Rotherham borough to draw down funds from the EU for the new resource centre. People weren’t happy how DART had been used by the borough and took it off them.
We gained some offices on Barleycroft Lane, which is now an hairdressers. One of my first jobs was to audit the accounts, before they went off to the accountants. None of the money for the Resource centre appeared in DART’s accounts, which seemed unethical. There were only about £3,000 going though DART’s accounts for the year.
My first project was to help run a Saturday morning children’s cinema. I used to create flyers and distribute to the local schools. Some Saturday mornings we had up to 120 children attending. The local Co-op used to provide us with sweets and drinks for free, which we charged a small price for. I think the admission for the films was about a £1. We received a grant from an organisation in order to run the cinema, but the films could cost us £100 a time. DART know longer run the Saturday morning cinema, they prefer to run an evening cinema for the family, which is run as a cinema club.
DART received funds to purchase the Middleton Hall off the church and limited funds to renovate the building. A number of us then set to work on the Middleton Hall. There were probably a core of 20 people in total on the project. A number of people made donations of material and time.
I used to do anything from painting down to tiling the toilet floors. We even fitted a sprung dance floor into the Middleton hall, upgraded the kitchen and toilets and a full size cinema screen was fitted along one wall.
I had some good times during the project. The idea of the Middleton Hall was to support local community groups, anything from an art club to a dance school. I understand that there is also equipment in there for local bands to record.
At this point my involvement diminished in DART other than for running a local business club. DART decided to go for further funding to improve the facilities further, but from experience of the work we had already down, many of the volunteers thought they had done enough. People were very quick to use the facilities, but weren’t so quick to come forward to help us renovate the building, over the 12 months or so it took. The Middleton Hall has conference facilities that businesses can use
One would like to think the spirit of DART still exists from the time 14 years ago, when the volunteers took it over from Rotherham Borough Council.
All the best