Campaigners praised for saving local pub in Kent
Campaigners have been praised for saving a 200-year-old pub from closure and turning it into a thriving community hub with social lunches for vulnerable people, book swaps and an internet cafe.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) gave its Pub Saving Award to the Harrow in Stockbury, Kent, which faced closure after it was put up for sale in 2016.
Local campaigners secured the £380,000 needed to buy the pub from Shepherd Neame through a network of 140 shareholders and money from the Plunkett Foundation, which helps rural communities, and community pub support programme More Than A Pub.
The pub re-opened in August this year and is now described as a "buzzing and thriving" part of Stockbury.
Nicole Hamilton of the Plunkett Foundation, said: "The Plunkett Foundation were 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, said: "The Harrow 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."
The runner-up in the competition was the Craufurd Arms Community Group, which saved the last pub in North Maidenhead using the combined efforts of everyone down to the local residents all the way up to a local MP, the Prime Minister.
More than 200 local residents invested in the pub, helping to raise £325,000 to buy it and turn it into a thriving community pub business.