December 6 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Hill
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The volunteer “landlords” who created a pop-up pub in a Norfolk village hall are urging punters to get behind their public-spirited project to recreate a hub for the community’s social life.
The village of Mileham, between Dereham and Fakenham, lost its last pub 28 years ago when the Old Oak closed.
After being voted in as village hall chairman two years ago, Beth Condron made it her mission to revive a drinking establishment for her community, despite working long hours as a specialist diabetes nurse in Norwich and running two of her own businesses in her spare time.
She recruited Andy Garnett, who works for insurance broker Marsh Capita in Norwich by day, but was keen to find an outlet for his products through his other role as the Norfolk representative for Fresh Ale Bag Technology.
The venture incorporates an innovation which involves decanting beer into special plastic bag containers which Mr Garnett said could allow real ale to be kept fresh for three months.
With their plans in place, the pair were granted a licence by Breckland Council in October last year and subsequently obtained a level five food preparation certificate.
The “pub” is now offering real ale, spirits, lager, soft drinks and locally-sourced food at the village hall every Friday and Saturday night – not to mention a pool table and regular karaoke performances from the duo tending the bar.
Regular special events and music nights have drawn crowds of up to 70 people, but with just a handful of regulars on weekend nights, Mrs Condron said she was keen to encourage more people to join them for a drink.
“We need more people in here, even if they just want have a cup of tea and listen to the karaoke” she said. “We have our regulars and every weekend they are here come rain or snow. That is why we do it.
“We’re saying: ‘Let’s bring the village alive again. Too many things are dying, whether its village halls, bakers or butchers. The little shops are dying and it is those local shops that need to come back.”
Mrs Condron is a clinical nurse at the Elsie Bertram Diabetes Centre at the Norfolk and Norfolk University Hospital, as well as managing director of Beth’s Hampers, which sells Norfolk food produce, and of Norfolk Village Weddings, which will launch later this year.
Mr Garnett said: “The main reason I am here is that I feel that all the pubs are closing and village halls are not being used like they used to be, so the community seems to be disappearing.
“This is a typical village hall, but we have a pool table in one corner and a bar in another. Before, there was no bar in the village at all.
“It needs the community to support it. It is a little bit of a shame that we are not getting a few more in but, having said that, there are new people moving into the village and people are starting to come.
“All we need is for three or four people to walk through the door who have never been there before to make it worth doing.”