CHRIS (a.k.a. Pinky) has lived in the village for so long – 35 years! – that he can remember the pub having an outside gents’ loo! Made of corrugated iron, it was stinking hot in summer, and bitter in winter. But you could go and defrost by leaning on the counter in the lovely little public bar, next to the fire, and chat. Sometimes they used to cycle over with the kids on a sunny summer afternoon – not very often, because the food offering was very limited.
I asked him how he got involved with the reborn community pub?
“I remember there was standing room only on that first meeting – the hall was absolutely packed. There were lots of rumours! No-one wanted the pub to stay closed. Everyone crowded in – there was a guy from CAMRA who was very encouraging. Everyone bought into it! We signed up for painting and decorating, it seemed like something we could do!
Then when we bought the pub, everyone was invited in to see what we’d let ourselves in for, and there were A4 sheets everywhere, giving people the vision for what was needed, how much it was going to cost, what the priorities were – and painting and decorating was very clearly needed! A team grew, 8 of us, and we stayed together and did loads of jobs.
I remember David being absolutely positive that we were going to open at Easter, and thinking he was bonkers – but we did it! I remember that day with a great deal of pride. The place looked like a pub! – decorated, open, people thronging in and admiring it all! I’d like to point out that all the tiles in the men’s loo were personally scrubbed by me, too, with a wire wool scrubber! Still nicer than the outside loo!”
So would he do it all again?
“Of course! It was a chance to get involved in the community, make lots of friends, meet people – and it’s great fun! I can go and be on either side of the bar – I have a real sense of ownership and pride in the pub! That was a real step change for me, going behind the bar – I was worried that I’d never manage to cope with a string of orders. In fact it’s fine. I went to a training session with Yolande, and had lots of support until I was ready to go solo.
For us, getting involved with the pub – and especially now with the shop being open – has meant that we have no need to move away, to somewhere else; the village has it all!”