Three cheers for pub re-opening!

It was a bit less dramatic than a knight in shining armour charging in to celebrate a famous win.But the arrival of Keith Skipper - the self-proclaimed Prodigal Son - on a pony and trap was just as important for the people of Beeston, near Dereham, as they celebrated victory in their battle to re-open the village pub.

It was a bit less dramatic than a knight in shining armour charging in to celebrate a famous win.

But the arrival of Keith Skipper - the self-proclaimed Prodigal Son - on a pony and trap was just as important for the people of Beeston, near Dereham, as they celebrated victory in their battle to re-open the village pub.

The writer, broadcaster and raconteur, was born and bred in Beeston and lent his support to the community when The Ploughshare Inn lost its landlord and was forced to close earlier this year.

And he cut the ribbon to mark the formal resumption of life in the pub and marked an impressive hat trick for the former football writer after he was also special guest at the opening of the village school indoor toilets and the new village hall.

Mr Skipper continued the sporting theme to recall the most famous son of the village - 19th century world heavyweight boxing champion Jem Mace - who would have been proud of the modern day battlers.

“This reminds me of Jem Mace and the village has not lost its fighting spirit.”

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Mr Skipper said his arrival at the Ploughshare was very much a return to old times.

“My father used to drink in the Ploughshare with Wilfred Cross whose son Ray gave me a lift up here on his pony and trap.

“And he tells me that the pony called Spot knows its' way home from every pub in a mile radius, for when we've all had a few pints later!”

Owners Countrywide Inns are confident new landlord Peter Hammond will be able to succeed where others have failed - and turn the Ploughshare back into a popular pub and restaurant.

Villagers have been promised regular meetings with the landlord to make sure everything is running smoothly and the pub is serving their needs.

Mr Skipper was contacted when the pub closed last month by Paddy Buckley, who lives nearby with his wife Lorraine, and is very fond of the Ploughshare.

Mr Buckley said: “We got a fantastic welcome in that pub when we arrived and we became close friends with the people we met in the Ploughshare.

“We were determined to fight this and are very pleased with how things have turned out. I think we have all done very well indeed.”

The assembled villagers are pleased to have their pub back but accept that there is a long way to go.

Gloria Fowler , chairman of Beeston Parish Council, said: “We are delighted but now we must keep it open. We have promised the landlord we will help him to do that and we must help him to encourage people to visit the pub.”

*The Ploughshare is at The Street, Beeston, about two miles off the A47 between Dereham and Swaffham. Tel: 01328 701845.