'So happy for our village' - Campaigners celebrate saving last pub

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday.

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday. - Credit: Blue Bell Campaign

It has taken months of fundraising and determination - but they've made it.

People in Stoke Ferry met outside the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday, July 3 to officially celebrate the successful buy-out of the premises, following 17 months of community fundraising events and efforts.

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday.

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday. - Credit: Blue Bell Campaign

The pub, which has served the community for more than 200 years, has been closed for three years and was potentially going to be sold and converted into a home.

But a Save the Blue Bell campaign group was formed to secure its future.

A survey carried out in March 2020 revealed there was "overwhelming support" for a pub in the village - 141 out of 153 respondents.

The group formed Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Ltd to raise £280,000 to buy and renovate the building, and launched a share offer last November.

They also secured funding through the More than a Pub loan and grant.

Campaigners also got the backing from actor and author Stephen Fry and TV personality Stephen K Amos, which they said "massively boosted" their support.

Mr Fry tweeted in December: "Let's save endangered, beloved pubs by buying them together."

Planning applications to turn the pub into housing were turned down by West Norfolk Council.

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday.

Residents in Stoke Ferry officially celebrated saving the Blue Bell Inn on Saturday. - Credit: Blue Bell Campaign

And now after successfully raising their target of £280,000 and buying the building, the group plans to renovate it to bring it back to life as a "pub-café-community hub".

Chairman Stephen Ward thanked all those involved, adding that a team of tradespeople and local businesses have rallied behind the cause to help renovate the building for the benefit of the community.

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Lyn Juniper-Solley said: “The community buy-out of the Blue Bell is fantastic news.

"I can’t wait to help with the renovation and create a bar-café that is welcoming to everybody.”

Elaine Ford said: “I’m giddy with excitement. There are so many local people involved and I know there’s lots of business support out there as well. I am just so happy for our village.”

Pictured from left to right: Lyn Juniper-Solley, Middle Cody and Elaine Ford

Pictured from left to right: Lyn Juniper-Solley, Middle Cody and Elaine Ford - Credit: Blue Bell Campaign