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How one landlord saved a dying village pub

PUBLISHED: 11:53 17 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 17 February 2019

Aaron and Trudy Lambert with baby Evie, who run The Eagle pub in Great Hockahm. Picture: Conor Matchett

Aaron and Trudy Lambert with baby Evie, who run The Eagle pub in Great Hockahm. Picture: Conor Matchett

Archant

A decade ago, one village gained a new landlord who managed to turn it from an unloved, run-down dying business into a thriving community pub.

Aaron Lambert, landlord at The Eagle, Great Hockham. Picture: Conor MatchettAaron Lambert, landlord at The Eagle, Great Hockham. Picture: Conor Matchett

The Eagle, in Great Hockham, near Thetford, would likely not be around today like the village’s shop and post office if Aaron Lambert had not arrived in 2009.

Taking on the duties of running the pub from the previous owner, Mr Lambert began to bring back the care and attention the venue deserved, and the customers flooded back.

He said: “I came up here to have a look and it wasn’t pretty at all.

“There was mould up the walls, the heating had not been on for quite a few years and it just wasn’t nice at all.

The Great Hockham village sign. Picture: Conor MatchettThe Great Hockham village sign. Picture: Conor Matchett

“You could tell it was completely unloved.

“We spent a couple of weeks decorating, tarted it up, opened the doors and we were packed from day one.

“It appeared that most of the village had stopped using the pub for one reason or another and they all came out of the woodwork.”

Running it as a “proper boozer” with a handful of pub sport teams, putting on quiz nights and live music as well as being dog friendly helped entice people into the pub.

The Eagle pub in Great Hockham. Picture: Conor MatchettThe Eagle pub in Great Hockham. Picture: Conor Matchett

After five years of renting the pub from Punch Taverns, Mr Lambert took the opportunity to purchase the business.

Ever since, he has been slowly improving and refurbishing the building, with a big renovation finishing ahead of the 10 year anniversary.

He added: “We do food on the weekend and keep it a traditional pub during the week.

“The village has lost everything else, there is no shop, and they really do go with the view that if you don’t go to the pub, you’ll lose it.

“The big thing is that you have to give people a reason to walk in the door.

“You can’t just open the door and expect people to just come in.

“I have been lucky, I may have made it nicer but if the customers didn’t come in, they are the ones that have kept it going. The success is all down to the community, completely.”

On Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23, the pub will celebrate the tenth year anniversary of Mr Lambert’s arrival, with live music and homemade pies over a two-day celebration.

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