Prince Charles’ boost for White Horse at Upton

The community buy-out of an iconic Broadland pub has been boosted with a �50,000 grant from the Prince's Countryside Fund (PCF).

A loud cheer went up outside the White Horse, in Upton, near Acle, when charity spokesman Victoria Harris announced the news to villagers yesterday morning.

An enthusiastic invitation was immediately issued to the Prince of Wales to come and re-open the pub once villagers have completed the purchase later this month or in early August.

Ken Turner, a member of the committee set up in January to save the local when it was feared it might fall prey to developers, said: 'I am sure every villager would love to buy him a pint.'

More than a third of property owners in Upton have already made donations to the cause and it was announced last month that the committee was in a position to go ahead with the purchase having reached an initial �100,000 target.

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Fellow committee member Pat Murch said the grant from the Prince's Countryside Fund meant they would be able to accelerate their plans to turn the pub into a community hub.

She said: 'Our number one focus will be to run it as traditional pub serving good locally-sourced food at a reasonable price.

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'However, we also want to start a high quality meals on wheels service where pensioners in Upton will be able to choose food from the pub menu and have a friendly face deliver it.

'We also want to get a badly needed prescription collection service off the ground quickly.'

She said they would be seeking extra funding to convert an outbuilding into a village shop; their plans also included launching a micro-brewery and cider press and establishing a citizens' advice service as well as offering hairdressing and complementary health facilities.

She said: 'The pub will be a place for the whole family to come and we will be promoting it with the Broads boat hire companies too.'

The present landlord, Ray 'Winkle' Norman, has run the White Horse for more than 40 years but, with his health declining, has been trying to sell the business to no avail for the past two years. He intends to carry on living in Upton.

Villagers will see their donations converted into shares in a new community interest company which will pay an initial �150,000 for the purchase, followed by a further five annual payments of �30,000.

Ms Harris said the PCF targeted its grants at projects which aimed to sustain rural communities.

She said: 'Social hubs are so important to village life. This project will have a really positive benefit to the 700 people who live in Upton.'

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