CELEBRATIONS were in full swing in Wroughton on Saturday as villagers marked 40 years since the opening of the heart and soul of the village – the Ellendune Centre.

From a photography exhibition featuring black and white pictures depicting village life as far back as 1888, to stalls and a musical performance by artist Talis Kimberley, nothing was spared to commemorate the community hub’s anniversary.

Hall users, including Ellendune Entertainers and Vision For Wroughton, were also invited to hold displays and promote their organisations.

The festivities culminated in the presentation and cutting of Ellendune’s anniversary cake, a reproduction of the centre made out of no fewer than 12 sponges.

Over the years the hall has undergone expansion and significant transformation but its place in the community has remained unchanged.

“In the days when community centres are closing we wanted to open up the building and celebrate the fact that it has been going for 40 years,” said Hazel Hodd, the secretary of the Ellendune Hall Trust. “It was actually extended last year. It’s a wonderful village; there is so much going on and the centre is a focal point for the community.”

The village had double cause for celebration on Saturday after residents succeeded in raising the £30,000 to save Wroughton’s nature reserve Kings Farm Wood from potential development last week.

Parish council chairman Paul Hurst said: “It is the centre of the village, used by lots of groups, for shows, and the parish council itself operates from here. We also raised the £30,000 we needed for Kings Farm Wood so we can celebrate.

“Everybody has pulled together to make it work and it’s their big thank you celebration.”

Talis, 46, a well-known local folk performer, offered to entertain guests on the day in a show of gratitude to the village which welcomed her so warmly eight years ago and the venue where she met her neighbours for the first time.

“When I moved to Wroughton eight years ago I didn’t know a soul,” said the mother-of-two.

“I went along to the country market in the hall and talked to local people there. Within a fortnight I had a good circle of friends and the confidence to talk to strangers in the street. “Ellendune is a lovely space run by a community group and it embodies what the village is about.”