Cheers! Shouldham residents who bought King’s Arms pub to a save it from closure celebrate its third anniversary
- Credit: Matthew Usher
As they sip some of the finest tipples at their annual beer festival this weekend, Shouldham residents will reflect on just what a remarkable journey they have been on.
Little more than four years ago, the closure of the West Norfolk village's last remaining watering hole - the King's Arms - left many punters wondering whether they would ever again have a place to drink with their neighbours and friends. But this year's beer festival, which kicks off on Friday, September 1, marks the third year since The King's Arms reopened after residents, backed by a campaign from the EDP, rallied round to save it.
And Mr Skinner said: 'I'm finding the support from the community is as strong as it ever was. We've got a dedicated, hard-working team behind the scenes and loyal customers. The fact people can walk to the pub in the evening and have a drink is all some of them have ever wanted. They really appreciate it.'
In an act of amazing community spirit, residents came together to form the Save Our King's Arms (SOKA) campaign because they were determined to save the place that was such an important community asset for generations.
Kicking off the fundraising campaign with the village's first beer festival in 2013, residents said there was 'feeling we've got to do it - not just for ourselves but future generations too'.
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Campaigners received national attention and even support from Stephen Fry as they became one of the few communities to raise the money needed by selling shares in the pub to members of the public. That meant The King's Arms broke the mould in becoming a pub run by the community, for the community.
And just a year later, having raised the cash they needed from a £189,000 government grant and £150,000 from selling shares, landlord Ian Skinner was pulling the first pints. The hard work didn't stop there - indeed some say that even the effort and challenges of the fundraising campaign was easy compared to the hard graft needed to run a pub.
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Mr Skinner said the beer festival, held on the village green opposite the pub, running until Sunday, September 3 and opening at midday each day, would be a 'great chance for people to celebrate what we've achieved'.
There will be more than 35 real ales and 15 ciders, including the return of the 'gin palace' with 25 gins and food from the King's Arms kitchen.
Live music will be played by more than a dozen bands including Champagne and Moonshine, Out of the Window, Pound Shop Glasses and The Mudcats.
Thousands of visitors are expected over the three days, with Mr Skinner saying the event gets more popular every year.
For more information, visit http://kingsarmsshouldham.co.uk/beer-festival-2017/