Save the Duke

Save the Duke campaign group has offer to buy pub accepted

By Liam Coleman

- Last updated on GMT

Campaigners are now targeting an opening date in the new year
Campaigners are now targeting an opening date in the new year

Related tags Property

Campaigners in a Suffolk village have told of their joy at having an offer for their closed local pub accepted after 22 months of fundraising.

The Save the Duke group used a combination of sold shares​, donations and fundraising to raise the princely sum of £300,000 needed to buy local boozer the Duke of Marlborough, Somersham.

Local resident Dr Sarah Caston started the campaign to buy the pub and protect it from potential development after the previous owners retired and closed it on Christmas Eve 2014. 

Dr Sarah Caston, campaign leader, being interviewed by Kevin Burch, BBC Look East

She said: "Massive thanks to the many, many people who have supported the campaign over the past two years. It has been a long haul to get to this point - but we're now nearly there."

The campaign group is yet to exchange and complete on the property but is now confident of the deal now moving ahead.

Once the group has completed the purchase, the pub will be the property of Somersham Community Pub Ltd, which is owned by the shareholders that have invested in the site.

Biggest hurdle crossed

Chairman of the Save the Duke committee, James Batchelor-Wylam, said: “What at some points has felt like a pipe dream is now close to coming true. The Duke of Marlborough should soon be owned by the community, and, even more importantly, open to all."

But the job is not quite complete - they are still looking for donations​ needed to get the pub up and running.

“There’s lots of hard work ahead of us, but it finally feels like we’ve crossed the biggest hurdle,” Batchelor-Wylam added.

Frances Brace

Frances Brace, who works in communications for the pub industry and is on the committee, added: "For a small community to raise such a lot of money is no mean feat. All credit to Dr Sarah Caston for having the vision and determination to get it off the ground. The Duke of Marlborough is an integral part of our local history. 250 shareholders are now ensuring it will also be part of the region’s future."

The committee aims to have a deal complete by early December and reopen the pub with volunteers as staff in the new year.

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