‘Save our pub’ campaign helped community beat the coronavirus blues
PUBLISHED: 14:56 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:56 07 October 2020
(C) Archant 2020
The campaign to save a village’s only pub from permanent closure has brought its community together through the coronavirus pandemic.
And now the team behind the bid to save the White Swan at Gressenhall are hoping that by this time next year they will be able raise a toast to the fully restored and reopened pub, after it has sat empty since July 2018.
Mary Turner-Jeong, from the Save Our Swan campaign, said: “The excitement of something to come has really kept us going, and this has been a year in which we’ve desperately needed some hope.
“If there was a pub in the village again it would make a huge difference to so many people who have been isolated.”
Ryan Seymour, 25, from Dereham, added: “It’s been amazing to see over the past year-and-a-half how everyone has come together and wanted to get behind this.”
The Gressenhall Community Enterprise (GCE) group has raised the £260,000 they needed, which combined with a £100,000 grant from the Plunkett Foundation will allow them to buy the pub from current owner, Alastair Simpson.
Alex Begg, GCE chairman, said: “With a fair wind and barring unforeseen delays, we’d hope to own the building by mid-November, get going on the works early in the new year with a view to reopening by August/September.”
Someone who knows the pub’s value is fellow campaigner Jane Roberson, 66. Miss Roberson was born in Gressenhall and after living away for some decades returned and now directs the village’s 60-strong choir.
She said: “Whether it was a hunt on the green, or the bowls club, it was always a real centrepiece. At one time we had six pubs in the village but now we’re down to one so we have to save it.”
Mr Begg has only lived in the village for two years but has known the pub for longer as his partner, Rosie, lived there prior to that.
He said: “It’s an idyllic village but the pub was the missing jewel in the crown. It will be really good to have that as something we can enjoy for years to come.”
The plans include employing a manager, chef, bar and kitchen staff, and volunteers will cover the earlier opening times of the cafe and other work, for example, gardening.
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