Great Wishford villagers launch campaign to save their local pub

Royal Oak pub Great Wishford 1 (Mike Draper)

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 5:45am 12th February 2016.

They want to raise £45,000 to rescue the Royal Oak, which has been shut since last September.

It's a huge task, but the people in one South Wiltshire village hope they might be able to save their local pub and make it a real community asset.

The Royal Oak in Great Wishford (pictured here) has been shut since last September, and had a string of landlords up until then.

But the villagers want it back, so they're taking matters into their own hands with a fundraising campaign.

They've brought in £10,000 so far, and chair of the group, Tom Brannan, tells us why they're so keen to make it happen:

"We're a village of 300 and something people, the pub is a core element of the village. It's the watering hole, the meeting place, and over the last decade it's closed on several occasions as tenants have failed to make a go of it. It's the last asset that we have in the village - some years ago we lost both the shop and the post office, so it's a core element of the village itself."

A public meeting's being held in the village tonight (Friday February 12th) about the plans, with the hope of drumming up a bit more support.

Royal Oak pub Great Wishford

The group say they know of a few potential donors who didn't want to commit until they'd seen what the response would be like from local people.

Tom says so far, they're doing really well:

"We've had over 20 people raising close to £10,000 and over 20 people offering their skills. We've got carpenters and all sorts of builders in the village, so that's a phenomenal response. We think we're probably going to need around £45,000 and that's partly for upfront legal fees and so on to set up the organisation to take the lease."

In recent years, Great Wishford has also lost its shop and post office, so the villagers are keen to see their final asset come back to life.

Tom Brannan is the chair of the volunteer group and says a lot of the money they need would go towards internal refurbishments:

"We've had a series of landlords who have been underfunded and whilst they've been responsible under their lease terms for maintaining the inside of the pub, it has deteriorated and it really needs a good going over now, particularly fitting out the kitchen, which is the most expensive element of it. We also want to keep ourselves some contingency in the background just in case we have troubled days."

If you'd like to help the group with their fundraising campaign, or would like to find out more, you can email Tom on tomjacb@aol.com

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