Toasting success as villagers rally round to save pub

PUBLISHED: 08:42 01 April 2019

Celebrating the reopening of Three Horseshoes in Helions Bumpstead after five years of fighting to save it. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Celebrating the reopening of Three Horseshoes in Helions Bumpstead after five years of fighting to save it. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

The Three Horseshoes in Helions Bumpstead has joined the growing number of community-owned pubs in the region after being saved from closure by villagers.

James Cleverley and his wife (left) paid a visit to the pub in Helions Bumpstead on Saturday. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDJames Cleverley and his wife (left) paid a visit to the pub in Helions Bumpstead on Saturday. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The pub had been thriving but, according to residents, started to struggle when it was bought by new owners in 2012, eventually closing in May 2014.

Attempts have been made to use the premises for other business ventures since then but members of the community objected and its doors remained closed.

Alison Meldrum, secretary of the Helions Bumpstead Community Benefit Society, said: “There have been a lot of delays and battles with planning permission, Asset of Community Value status, objections and appeals, but we have finally got there in the end.

“When the pub closed the village lost its central place to meet and socialise. When we started talking to people about the community buying the pub we found that everyone was thinking the same way. It has really brought people together.”

A community share issue raised £285,392 from 153 local investors and the community was awarded £100,000 in grants and loans under the ‘More Than A Pub’ programme, which was set up in 2016 to support community ownership of pubs in England.

The programme is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Power to Change, and is delivered by the Plunkett Foundation.

Alison said: “Although we have a good range of skills and experience on the management committee, none of us have ever done anything like this before. “The help from More Than a Pub programme has been invaluable, and the network of community pubs is excellent. There is lots of knowledge and advice available from people who have done the same thing.”

An open day last Saturday allowed residents to see inside their local pub for the first time in five years. The event was attended by around 300 people throughout the afternoon.

The Kitsch Hen provided snacks and the event was sponsored by Nethergate Brewery whose Suffolk ale sold out very quickly.

As the site has been unused for so long there is a significant amount of refurbishment to do and the management committee has not yet set a date for when the pub will start trading again. Renovation of the premises started with the garden at the weekend.

The committee has advertised for a tenant to run the pub and started interviewing candidates.

The next event is planned for April 20. More information is available at www.helionscommunitypub.co.uk.

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