Published: 00:01, 28 December 2017
A plucky band of villagers who saved their local pub from closure have been recognised for their efforts with a national award.
Following months of campaigning, residents of Stockbury purchased The Harrow, a 200-year-old pub that had been put up for sale by brewer Shepherd Neame.
The new owners have now won Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Pub Saving Award, which recognises communities that prevented the closure of their local.
A group of 140 shareholders was invited to invest between £200 and £20,000 in order to secure the £380,000 needed to save the site.
They also secured funding from the Plunkett Foundation and More Than A Pub.
The campaigners raised awareness through various quiz nights, barbecues and village performances.
MP for Faversham and Mid Kent Helen Whately wrote to Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, and councillors also donated towards the refurbishment.
Chris Porter, who started the campaign to make The Harrow an Asset of Community Value, said: “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.”
Since the pub re-opened in August it has introduced a regular social lunch for vulnerable members of the community with a pick-up and drop-off service, a book swap and an internet cafe for those with poor connections. Darts and petanque teams have also returned.
Nicole Hamilton, head of frontline at Plunkett Foundation, said: “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, organiser of CAMRA’s Pub Saving Award praised the stakeholder for “using every tool available to save their beloved pub from closure” and added: “It is an absolute delight to celebrate this with our Pub Saving Award.”
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