Raising a glass to the future as Norfolk village pub’s keys are handed over
- Credit: IAN BURT
A year ago, Shouldham residents had what they called a 'crazy idea' to buy their last remaining village pub and reopen it for the community.
TToday, after a campaign to raise the money from members of the public, the dream they scarcely believed was possible is about to come true.
Just 12 months after starting their bid to raise £150,000 by selling shares in the King's Arms, residents have been handed the keys to the 17th- century pub and are busy preparing for the grand reopening.
The pub, which has stood empty since closing in 2012, is now once again a hive of activity as residents clear out the venue before a re-fit.
Plans have been submitted to West Norfolk Borough Council (WNBC) to add an extension, which if approved will provide the pub with new toilets for the disabled.
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The inside is due to be refurbished, with villagers planning to help get the pub ready for a spring opening.
Crucially, the SOKA committee is trying to find the all-important people or person to run it.
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SOKA says: 'They must be sensitive to the special place that the King's Arms has in Shouldham and its planned extended role in the community.'
What that extended role will be is yet to fully take shape.
However, there have been 'positive preliminary discussions' about the pub providing lunches for the primary school after September 2014, as well as meals for Shouldham Hall care home residents and a café to attract parents on the school run.
SOKA treasurer Keith Matthews said: 'It was a year ago since we had this crazy idea. It takes a long time to raise £150,000 from the public – we thought it'd take forever.
'However, to take that sign down was a huge relief. Everyone is so excited about it and they are keen to come and have a drink in the pub.
'Everyone wants to help and people now want to see what the pub is going to look like.'
SOKA chairman John McGourty said the success was 'all down to a lot of hard work from a lot of people'.
Are you raising money for a community cause in west Norfolk? Contact reporter Andrew Papworth on 01553 778681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org