Financially crippled pub smashes fundraising target

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

Saved: the Marina Fountain has raised more than £17,000 from almost 450 donations
Saved: the Marina Fountain has raised more than £17,000 from almost 450 donations

Related tags: Social responsibility, Finance, Tenanted + leased

An East Sussex pub that launched a campaign to save it from shutting permanently has smashed its target.

The Marina Fountain pub in St Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings, said the mixed messaging from the Government on Covid and a poor grant allowance announcement in the run-up to Christmas meant it faced going under.

However, it has raised more than £17,000 after creating a £15,000 target on Go Fund Me.

Operator Jess Scarratt said on the pub’s Facebook page: “How to put in words what you’ve just done for us?! When we got the opportunity to take over the pub, just the idea that I could be part of my hometown was enough. The pride I felt thinking I might be part of this community is the joy that’s overwhelming us now.

“It’s hard work but you’ve all proved how important and how much notice it must actually get. It took a day for Hastings to turn round and pick us back up. It felt embarrassing to have to ask, but that feeling was gone in an instance and replaced with elation. Thank you to everyone who donated.”

More than £17k raised

The pub received a donation of £2,177 from local George Bailey, which took it exactly to the £15,000 it needed just before Christmas.

At the time of publication, £17,693 has been raised from 449 individual donations.

The campaign began with Scarratt said on the Marina Fountain’s fundraising page: “I wish we were just here to say Merry Christmas but, unfortunately, we need to ask for your help to save the pub in this impossible situation that we find ourselves in, due to Omicron and a botched Government response.

“As you can imagine, it has been incredibly difficult running a pub over the past two years and now, when we still haven't really got back on our feet yet, it's like the rug has been pulled from under us in the most crucial period of the year – the few weeks before Christmas when we normally make most of the money that sees us through the winter.”

Grant was not enough

She added: “When we drilled down on the details of the grant announcement from Rishi Sunak, we would be entitled to a grant of less than £2,700, which is what we would take on a normal Sunday. We don’t want to be ungrateful but it simply isn’t enough.

“We felt we were right back in March 2020 where people were being told not to go out but the pubs were still open.”

The pub had been forced to cancel its big music nights this month either of its own volition or through artists cancelling and, after having to diversify into food during the height of the pandemic, it has now lost bookings totalling around 400 covers at the site that can seat 100 inside and the same number in its garden.

But Scarratt explained the response of the campaign had been “unbelievably heart-warming”.

To see how the GoFundMe campaign is going and to donate to it, click here​​ for more details.

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