Villagers celebrate funding boost to help renovate last pub
- Credit: Jim McNeill
Villagers in Stoke Ferry are celebrating once again after receiving more funding to help bring their pub back to life.
Save the Blue Bell Inn campaigners and supporters gathered outside the Lynn Road premises to celebrate an £8,500 award from the National Lottery Community Fund, which will go towards the renovation and refit of their now community owned 'pub-café-hub.'
The Blue bell closed in March 2018 as a result of poor trading and was potentially going to be turned into a residential property.
But villagers, who formed the campaign group, were determined to raise the funds needed to secure its future.
It took 17 months of community fundraising events and efforts throughout the pandemic, including support from Stephen Fry and Stephen K Amos, before the purchase of the pub finally came to a completion in June.
Volunteers and local businesses have since come together to work on the property to transform it into a pub-café-hub to "bring it back to life for everyone to use and enjoy."
The group were also awarded £2,500 seed funding from the Plunkett Foundation in October 2020.
A spokesperson said: "It has been a long and at times, bumpy road but it was the belief, enthusiasm, and support from near and far which gave the campaign to Save The Blue Bell the momentum to succeed."
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Sandra McNeill, member of the Save The Blue Bell's project board, said the National Lottery award will now allow them to "press on" with plans to renovate the last village pub.
She added: "This work is important because we are creating a true community pub that welcomes all individuals and groups.
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"This award is an investment not only in the bricks, flint and motor of the Blue Bell building but is also a massive vote of confidence in the people of Stoke Ferry and our surrounding villages.”
People came together for their first community event at the Blue Bell in August, and the group plans to hold its second event at the premises on September 26 from 12pm to 5pm with a Mexican-themed food and drink day.
Entertainment such as music, face painting and competitions will also be available.