Campaign to save village's last pub backed by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry tweeted about the Stoke Ferry Save the Blue Bell campaign which has helped boost support for the cause.

Stephen Fry tweeted about the Stoke Ferry Save the Blue Bell campaign which has helped boost support for the cause. Pictured: Campaigners gathered outside the pub in October 2020 to celebrate a grant from the Plunkett Foundation. (Left to right): Roy Biven, Alan Lury, Jim McNeill and Rebecca Blakeway-Long. - Credit: Sarah Hussain/Matthew Usher

A campaign to save a Norfolk village's last remaining pub has seen support boosted from around the world following backing from Stephen Fry.

The Norfolk actor and author tweeted his support for the Save the Blue Bell campaign in Stoke Ferry, which is trying to raise money to purchase the pub after it closed in 2018 as a result of poor trading.

Stephen Fry has appealed for people to be kind to each other during the coronavirus outbreak Pictur

Stephen Fry has appealed for people to be kind to each other during the coronavirus outbreak Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

Mr Fry highlighted the campaign's share offer, encouraging people to save pubs like the Blue Bell for the benefit of the community.

He said: "Let's save endangered, beloved pubs by buying them together.

"We can offer meals to the elderly and fight the epidemic of loneliness. What do you think? The wonderful Bluebell Pub is a pioneering example."

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

The campaign received a "massive boost" following Mr Fry's social media post, and people from as far as California and New Zealand have made investments.

Stephen Ward, chairman of Save the Blue Bell, said: "The tweet has been a real ray of sunshine through the Covid clouds.

"The tweet itself got a tremendous response, with over 2,000 likes and 388 retweets, and so hugely increased our reach. It has grown our Twitter and Facebook followers too. 

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"We can see that thousands of new visitors came to our website, since the tweet. 

"It has also generated offers of practical support from interior design to point of sale equipment.

"Stephen's support has also provided a huge fillip to the team and further galvanised the community in Stoke Ferry, Wretton, Whittington, Wereham and East Dereham and the surrounding area."

Campaigners celebrated celebrate an award of £2,500 seed funding from the Plunkett Foundations More

Campaigners celebrated celebrate an award of £2,500 seed funding from the Plunkett Foundations More than a pub programme earlier this month. Pictured left to right - Alan Lury, borough councillor Tom Ryves, Rebecca Blakeway-Long, Sue Lintern, Sandra McNeill and Roy Biven. Picture: Sarah Hussain - Credit: Archant

The group believes they will soon have a "genuinely community-owned pub" after getting the backing of 200 investors and hope to raise at least £180,000 to buy the pub with a further £80,000 to renovate and reopen it.

They started negotiations with the owner to buy the Blue Bell before Christmas and are trying to secure the final funds that is needed to complete the purchase.

Mr Ward said: "We need to raise a further £40,000 to be able to do that, so we will be working very hard for the next few weeks to continue converting the huge interest in the future of the Blue Bell into solid investment in the future of the community.

"While we have investors from around the globe, the majority are of course local."

The campaign's share offer is open until Sunday, January 31 for those looking to buy,  with a minimum investment of £50. Fore more information visit www.bluebellstokeferry.org  

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