We’re a working class community of 60-odd houses in rural Northumberland. Last year it looked as if we’d lose the last public building in the village - The Gun, our local pub - which saw community events throughout the year for both young and old … it held leek growing contests, as well as Halloween parties for kids; it acted as our polling station and, like all pubs, it was a place where villagers could gather to celebrate and commiserate together.
The pub and its beer garden were going to be sold to a housing developer until we had it assigned as an Asset of Community Value and formed a Community Benefit Society. Then, with some judgement - and a healthy bit of luck - we managed to instigate a successful Twitter campaign, which led to a feature in The Observer …
And, miraculously - due to the generosity of strangers - we raised the necessary £210,000 to buy the pub.
Some 12,000 hours of volunteer work followed on the dilapidated building … and we now have a renovated and refurbished pub we are incredibly proud of.
We were lucky enough to secure grants for further building works from both the Plunkett Foundation and the local Ray Wind Farm Fund; and over the last three months necessary works have been carried out to provide a new entrance, with disabled access, and to build a new toilet block (again with disabled facilities).
However, we are struggling to cover the costs to get the pub ready for re-opening. We've not been trading long enough to get either an overdraft or one of the government’s emergency Covid loans … while everyone in the village has already given as much as they can.
We would have been in a very healthy position without the pandemic. Covid has hit us all - individuals and businesses … but, in terms of businesses, few have been hit as hard as the hospitality sector. Even our most pessimistic projections didn’t foresee that, in our first year of trading, we’d be open for just 10 weeks … and that, during that time, in order to follow Covid regulations, we incurred greater costs but reduced capacity.
We desperately need £15,000 to finish the building and see us through until we can re-open in May (it's simply not cost effective, with our weather (!), to open the beer garden in April). There’s not much we can offer - except heartfelt thanks - in return for your generosity … but if you can come in for an imaginary couple of local ales and a packet of Scampi Fries … £10 would be gratefully received. Or, if you can afford a little more, why not have a pretend dinner of local lamb shank, some fish and chips, with a bottle of our house wine … for a £20 donation.
Thanks for reading, and all the best!