A NEW £1million community hall at Whiteparish has royal approval.

The Duke of Gloucester officially opened White-parish Memorial Centre – the village’s tribute to men who died in both world wars – on Tuesday afternoon.

The facility replaced the original village hall opened in 1927 and was a former Great War army hut, which was beyond repair and was demolished last year.

The new memorial centre has more room and extra facilities. It includes a main hall with seating for 150 people, a full-sized badminton court, a smaller meeting room capable of seating about 50 users, a kitchen and toilet facilities, a pair of changing rooms with showers and a referee’s changing room to support cricket and football teams using the Memorial Ground field.

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, unveiled a plaque at the building to commemorate the opening and his visit.

The Duke arrived by car and was accompanied by Wiltshire’s Lord Lieutenant Sarah Rose Troughton.

After his visit the Duke left in a helicopter of the Queen’s Flight.

During his visit the Duke met people from groups that use the new centre along with trustees of the building.

Treasurer of the Memorial Centre trust, Linda Palmer said it was fitting that the Duke was asked to open the building.

“He is an architect himself and interested in the history of both wars,” she said.

The Duke, the Queen’s cousin, said he liked the building and spent some time talking to the architect David Sharp and enjoyed a slice of cholcoate cake during his visit.

“Villagers are very conscious that the Memorial Ground and the new Memorial Centre are our local tribute to the fallen of both wars and every engagement since. Villagers did a considerable of fund-raising themselves – either individually or through their respective interest groups. We are enormously grateful to all our supporters for making this possible.”

Linda said that about 20 groups in the village use the memorial centre.

The idea of a new hall was first mooted in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the parish council encouraged a group of villagers to start work on a project and the Memorial Ground site was chosen as its home. Cash for the new building came from various sources including White-parish Parish Council, Wiltshire Council, Viridor Credits, the New Forest National Park Authority, the Sustainable Development Fund, Sport England, Wilsons Solicitors, the Premier and Football Association Facilities Fund, GSD Limited and the New Forest Rural Development Programme for England.