Great Holland residents rally to buy last village pub

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image captionThe Manor closed for lockdown last March but its owners said it will not be reopening

Residents have rallied together in an attempt to buy the last remaining pub in their village.

The Manor in Great Holland, Essex, closed last March for lockdown but its owners have said it will not reopen.

Villagers set up a group, The Manor Reborn, and are fundraising by selling shares in the pub in an attempt to buy it as a community.

One member, Roger Frere, said he would feel "distraught, upset and let down" if the pub could not be saved.

The Manor has stood in the village for 300 years and with the village's other pubs as well as its shop closed, residents said it was "the only place we can all get together".

image captionResidents need to raise between £315,000 and £500,000 in order to take over the pub

Through selling shares, the group has managed to raise £210,000 in five weeks, but it needs a minimum of £315,000 by 22 March to progress to the next stage of taking over the pub.

Although Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £150m fund to help communities take over local pubs at risk of closure in his Budget, the group is not raising a toast to the news.

"Unfortunately due to the timescale I don't think it will be helping us," Mr Frere said.

"It's not available to apply for until June and we need to have raised the minimum funds by 22 March and then negotiate a deal with the owners before our asset of community value license expires on 18 July."

The 69-year-old said there was a feeling of deflation when the group realised the fund could not help its plans.

image copyrightThe Manor Reborn
image captionThe building has operated as a pub for 300 years in the Essex village of Great Holland

Despite the clock ticking, The Manor Reborn is hopeful it can raise the money in the required time.

"We have had tremendous support so far," Mr Frere said.

"More than 150 people have said they would volunteer to help with the gardening, cooking and cleaning.

"It's given us the confidence to go forward and set the community business up."

image copyrightPaul Withams
image captionMr Frere said he had been to retirement parties, birthdays, wakes and meetings at the pub through the years

Mr Frere, a retired farm manager who has lived in Great Holland for 40 years, said the pub was "the centre of village life".

"I'm nervous and apprehensive about this blooming pub," he said.

"I would probably feel that we had let the village down if we don't save it."

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