DANCING, yoga, playgroups, exercise classes, quiz evenings and even cinema nights, are amongst the various activities that make use of village halls across Wiltshire.

To highlight these useful social hubs and amenities this week is Village Halls Awareness Week which runs until Monday, January 28.

The national event aims to make more people aware of their local village hall, to volunteer to take part in running them, to use them regularly and to celebrate the facilities.

In Great Bedwyn the village hall committee successfully applied for a £10,000 grant to extend activities including their new Friendship and Mobility group who seek to bring people together at the hall. Members are often lonely and socially isolated and the group makes a big difference in their lives.

The secretary of the hall committee Tesh Fitzpatrick said: "It came as a pilot with Sports England and Community First in Cumbria and Wiltshire for alternative approaches to fitness like seated sports, walking football and walking netball."

Tesh is keen on seeing village halls used more and reminding newcomers to the area of their availability with socialising, health and fitness emphasised.

She said: "The only way it will be a success is relying on volunteers to run the groups. For instance there are 80 volunteers running 36 weekly walks in Wiltshire already so what is happening is not new."

Judy Haynes in the village runs a footpaths group while Pauline Perry runs the playgroup that uses the hall. The hall's chairman Kevin Challen said getting involved was fun but there were challenges.

"We try to improve what we do here," he said, "with lots of users and the weather there is the usual wear and tear for maintenance.

"But we've put in new heating and LED lighting as well as wifi and a cinema system. It shows how village halls are changing with new activities like zumba and the cinema. When we have a quiz night with cash prizes people often donate the money back into the hall to help with the costs.

"They are putting something back into the village."