Pub campaigners win top award
Added: Thursday, December 28th 2017
Campaigners in Kent have been put on the map after winning CAMRA’s prestigious Pub Saving Award, which recognises communities that save their local pub from closure.
Judges were particularly impressed by how the residents of Stockbury, Kent, came together to save a 200-year-old pub and turn it into a thriving community hub with social lunches for vulnerable people, book swaps and an internet cafe.
The Harrow faced imminent closure after it was put on the market in September 2016. Local campaigners quickly went to work to secure the £380,000 needed to purchase the pub from Shepherd Neame by building a strong network of 140 local shareholders and tapping into the Plunkett Foundation and More Than A Pub for funding.
The campaign group raised awareness of the pub’s plight throughout the local community by utilising local papers and hosting various events such as quiz nights, BBQs and performances in the village centre. Local MP Helen Whately wrote directly to Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, to throw her support behind the community group and councillors donated funding towards the refurbishment of the pub.
The pub successfully re-opened in August 2017 with the ambition of being the “social hub of the community”. Today it offers a regular social lunch for vulnerable members of the community -- including pick up and drop off services – as well as a book swap and an internet cafe for those with poor internet access. Local darts and petanque teams have returned to the pub and it is now a buzzing and thriving part of Stockbury.
Chris Porter, chair of the Harrow CBS Group, says: “It is a fantastic achievement to have saved this pub from closure thanks to the help of hundreds of people – stakeholders, villagers, councillors, press, MPs and groups like Pub is the Hub and Plunkett.
“Through these efforts our little community is better connected than ever before. It is an absolute delight to receive this award from CAMRA and be able to show other communities that it is possible to save their local from disappearing forever.”
Nicole Hamilton, Head of Frontline at Plunkett Foundation, adds: “The Plunkett Foundation was delighted to be involved in judging the Pub Saving Award and encouraged to see so many strong applications from communities who actively campaigned to save their local pub. The Harrow, supported by the More than a Pub programme, is a shining example of what can be achieved and through a strong campaign have ensured their community pub business meets the wider needs of their community and members.”
Paul Ainsworth, who organises CAMRA’s Pub Saving Award, says: “The Harrow CBS group used every tool available to save their beloved pub from closure, and it is an absolute delight to celebrate this with our Pub Saving Award. Once a pub is closed, it is too often lost forever and their success should be a great inspiration to other communities faced with losing their local -- pubs really can be saved.”
Campaigners in Maidenhead are the runners-up in CAMRA’s 2017 Pub Saving Award.
The Craufurd Arms Community Group grabbed the attention of judges after saving the last pub in North Maidenhead. using the combined efforts of local residents and all the way up to Prime Minister Theresa May.
When the pub was threatened by closure, the local community sprung to action to raise the required funds to purchase the pub that had a guide price of £325,000. After securing the support of the local community through Residents Surveys, public meetings and press and social media engagement, the group turned to CAMRA, the Plunkett Foundation and Our Community Enterprise.
Help then came in unlikely sources, including a generous contribution from Sir Robert and Lady Georgina Craufurd -- after whose family the pub is named -- and a letter of support from the Prime Minister: the pub is in her constituency.
An incredible response to the share offer saw 229 local residents invest in the pub, allowing it to re-open in June as the 50th community-owned pub in the country. After just two months of operations the gross wet sales reached its 2020 forecast, and events including charity days and Real Ale and Cider Festivals have already taken place.
Mark Newcombe, chairman of the Craufurd Arms Society, says: “With the help of our members and supporters the Craufurd Arms – our pint-sized community pub – has been able to thrive and prosper as a vital social and community hub and a profitable business.
“The fact that we managed to raise the funds in such a short period of time is a testament to the incredible efforts of the committee, investors, supporters and CAMRA members.”
Paul Ainsworth, who organises CAMRA’s Pub Saving Award, says: “The Craufurd Arms Community Group should be recognised for the fantastic work that they have done to save their local pub from closure. Using every tool available to them and tapping into any and all channels – including the Prime Minister – this group is a great inspiration to communities across the country.”
Nicole Hamilton, Head of Frontline at Plunkett Foundation, adds: “The Craufurd Arms, supported by the More than a Pub programme, is a shining example of what can be achieved and through a strong campaign have ensured their community pub business meets the wider needs of their community and members.”