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Village launches bid to reopen rural pub

PUBLISHED: 13:20 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 17 August 2020

The Blue Bell pub at Stoke Ferry, Picture: Stephen Ward

The Blue Bell pub at Stoke Ferry, Picture: Stephen Ward

Stephen Ward

A Norfolk village is rallying together to reopen a rural pub as a community-owned venture.

Stephen Ward is leading the campaign to reopen the Blue Bell as a community pub. Picture:  Stephen WardStephen Ward is leading the campaign to reopen the Blue Bell as a community pub. Picture: Stephen Ward

The Bluebell at Stoke Ferry has been closed for more than three years and was potentially going to be sold and converted to a residential property.

However people who live in the village have launched a campaign named ‘Ring the Blue Bell again’ to raise £280,000 to buy and renovate the building.

Stephen Ward is the chairman of the campaign, and said: “About a year ago we had a meeting about the pub and what people would like to see it used for. We did a survey which more than a third of residents responded to and the majority said they wanted to see it used as a community hub.

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“We’ll be using it as a pub of course, but it’ll also be a bit of a café and will host meetings for community groups and potentially some work space given how the nature of work has changed.

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“We’d also like it to have a prescription pick up service and a parcel depot so it has a use for everyone in the village.”

Not only is the campaign applying for grants but it is also seeking to raise funds through a two month-long share ownership sale and a series of fundraising events.

On the upcoming bank holiday the village will hold events to illustrate all the ways the pub will be used, with virtual beer and wine tastings taking place as well as tea and cake sales in the nearby church.

“We’re also asking people to convert their homes and gardens into pubs and send us pictures of what pub classic they’ve cooked and how they’ve decorated,” said Mr Ward.

“I think the most important element for me though is the community heroes aspect we’ve launched, where we’re asking people to nominate people or businesses who have gone above and beyond in lockdown. It not only sums up what we’re trying to achieve with a community pub but also gives us the opportunity to say thank you.”

For more information about the campaign and how to get involved, visit www.bluebellstokeferry.org


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