December 11 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, August 17, 2013
A campaign by residents to buy their village pub and reopen it for the good the community has already attracted £10,000 - and a supportive Tweet from Stephen Fry.
Less than 12 hours after villagers in Shouldham launched a share issue campaign to encourage people to buy a stake in King’s Arms, thousands of pounds was put forward by residents wanting to be a part of the new community venture.
About 100 people then turned out for what was dubbed the Great Share Launch at Shouldham Village Hall, where John McGourty, chairman of the Save Our King’s Arms (SOKA) campaign, outlined how his committee would raise the £330,000 needed to buy the venue from current owner Punch Taverns.
As the Shouldham Beer Festival on the village green opened to help with the launch the campaign, Stephen Fry Tweeted: “Always sad to see a Norfolk pub close. Good luck @SaveOurKingsArm with your community share issue and Beer Festival.”
The 17th Century pub shut in June 2012 after its previous tenants struggled to keep up with rent payments, leaving the village which once boasted six pubs without a single watering hole to its name.
That led residents to start a campaign to buy the King’s Arms and raise the money by selling shares of between £50 and £20,000 to interested parties, so the pub will be owned by the community and the profits split between villagers.
Before the launch of the share issue campaign at 9am yesterday, SOKA had already received £70,000 of pledges from people who said they intended to buy shares. Ahead of last night’s meeting, £10,000 of shares had officially been sold.
Phil Harriss, secretary of SOKA, said: “We’ve come a long way since our first meeting. The response of the village to rally round has been overwhelming.
“It shows there is a tremendous amount of pride in our village and that we are determined not to lose our pub.”
The committee is trying to raise £330,000 to buy the pub, partially refurbish it and reopen it while still having enough money left for a contingency fund.
A minimum of £150,000 would come from the sale of shares, which SOKA hopes will be matched a capital grant for which it is currently applying for. A small amount of money would also come from loan finance.
Liz Truss, the South West Norfolk MP, attended the share launch. “I congratulate you on the incredible work you’ve already done on this campaign,” she said. “Pubs are an incredibly important part of the community and I’m looking forward to being able to have a drink in the pub.”
Mr Harriss, who spent part of the day putting up fluorescent signs in the surrounding area to encourage people to come to last night’s meeting, said: “It has been a great campaign so far. Shouldham has shown great community spirit.
“One of the themes for the whole campaign is that we are not just ding it for ourselves but for future generations.
“I have had 15 years of drinking in The King’s Arms and know what a great place it can be. We just want younger generations who come here to have that opportunity to enjoy it.
“Even if we’re not successful, it has pulled the village together.”
A weekend of activities in the village is now planned to mark the start of the share launch campaign.
They include the Shouldham Beer and Music Festival, which runs on the village green, and a fun walk and jog in Shouldham Warren, which will also be held in memory of Shouldham’s most famous resident, the former Arsenal and Norwich City footballer Alf Kirchen.