Alpacas and giant tortoises join fight to save village pub

Alpacas and giant tortoises will be on the grounds of All Saints Church in High Street on May 30 from 10.30am to 3pm.

Alpacas and giant tortoises will be on the grounds of All Saints Church in High Street on May 30 from 10.30am to 3pm. - Credit: Sandra Justice

Campaigners pressing on to save their village pub are holding a family fun day to help raise funds to buy and renovate it - which includes visits from alpacas and giant tortoises.

Villagers in Stoke Ferry, near Downham Market, are organising a "Covid-compliant fun experience" on the grounds of All Saints Church in High Street on May 30 from 10.30am to 3pm in efforts to save the Blue Bell Inn.

The Lynn Road pub closed in 2018 as a result of poor trading but villagers, who set up the Save the Blue Bell campaign, revealed that there was "overwhelming support" in the local community for it remain open.


Villagers in Stoke Ferry came together to save The Blue Bell pub.

Villagers in Stoke Ferry came together for a share offer event to save The Blue Bell pub. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Fundraising events have taken place throughout the pandemic and people, including Stephen Fry, have backed the campaign's share offer to buy the building from its current owner Oxygen 56 Ltd.

In February, the pub was hit with flooding after a mains water pipe burst in the roof which campaigners said "put everything back a bit", but that they are now very close to exchanging contracts on the Blue Bell.

The planned May bank holiday family fun day will be the seventh community event the group has organised in nine months.

The Blue Bell Inn closed in March 2018 as a result of poor trading. Picture: Sarah Hussain

The Blue Bell Inn closed in March 2018 as a result of poor trading. Picture: Sarah Hussain - Credit: Archant

Families will be able to enjoy games, raffles, demonstrations of flint napping and green wood turning.

Alpacas and giant tortoises will also be seen on the grounds alongside craft, plant and local history stalls including Downham Market's Birdhouse Brewery. Charlotte Bennett of Bobbin’s Bakes will also be offering a selection of cakes.

Alpacas and giant tortoises will be on the grounds of All Saints Church in High Street on May 30 from 10.30am to 3pm.

Alpacas and giant tortoises will be on the grounds of All Saints Church in High Street on May 30 from 10.30am to 3pm. - Credit: Sandra Justice

Elaine Ford, community event coordinator, said: “As the day of the pub’s purchase draws nearer, the Blue Bell campaign team are excited to be organising this community fun event.

"And our thanks go to all those who have made the event possible including Birdhouse Brewery, Bobbin's Bakes, Bonnett’s Hardware, Buttercup Books, Flames takeaway, Heacham Manor, Kit and Kate Hesketh-Harvey, No Mean Feet, Stoke Ferry and District History Group, Stoke Ferry Hand Car Wash, and The Plunkett Foundation.”

Charlotte Bennett, of Bobbin's Bakes in Boughton, gives us her traditional fruit scone recipe.

Charlotte Bennett, of Bobbin's Bakes at previous Save the Blue event. - Credit: Charlotte Bennett

Chairman Stephen Ward revealed that the new Blue Bell would be "more than a pub" and will host other events such as lunches for the elderly and the isolated.