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‘Save our pub’ campaign helped community beat the coronavirus blues

PUBLISHED: 14:56 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:56 07 October 2020

Part of the team that has worked to save the White Swan pub at Gressenhall. From left, Rosie Begg, Pamela Neil, Mary Turner-Jeong, Jane Roberson, Alex Begg and Ryan Seymour. Picture: Brittany Woodman

Part of the team that has worked to save the White Swan pub at Gressenhall. From left, Rosie Begg, Pamela Neil, Mary Turner-Jeong, Jane Roberson, Alex Begg and Ryan Seymour. Picture: Brittany Woodman

(C) Archant 2020

The campaign to save a village’s only pub from permanent closure has brought its community together through the coronavirus pandemic.

Alex Begg in front of the White Swan pub in Gressenhall. Picture: Brittany WoodmanAlex Begg in front of the White Swan pub in Gressenhall. Picture: Brittany Woodman

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.”

Part of the team that has worked to save the White Swan pub at Gressenhall. From left, Rosie Begg, Pamela Neil, Mary Turner-Jeong, Jane Roberson, Alex Begg and Ryan Seymour. Picture: Brittany WoodmanPart of the team that has worked to save the White Swan pub at Gressenhall. From left, Rosie Begg, Pamela Neil, Mary Turner-Jeong, Jane Roberson, Alex Begg and Ryan Seymour. Picture: Brittany Woodman

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.”

Mary Turner-Jeong and Alex Begg celebrate reaching an important milestone in the campaign to buy the White Swan pub in Gressenhall. Picture: Brittany WoodmanMary Turner-Jeong and Alex Begg celebrate reaching an important milestone in the campaign to buy the White Swan pub in Gressenhall. Picture: Brittany Woodman

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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