Boost for community-owned pub during coronavirus closure

The Racehorse Community Pub in Westhall.

The Racehorse Community Pub in Westhall. - Credit: Racehorse Community Pub

A community-owned pub, which had only been opened a few months before it had to temporarily close amid the continuing coronavirus crisis, has received a boost.

The Racehorse Community Pub in Westhall has been awarded a grant from a national project to help with the challenges it faces.

The funding has been awarded by the More than a Pub programme, which helps fund community pubs to set up and run community support activities that address the challenges of the coronavirus social distancing measures during the current lockdown.

The Racehorse is to receive £1,549 from the More than a Pub programme.

The pub – like other businesses – had to temporarily close due to the continuing pandemic, and Nick Hoare, chairman of the Community Benefit Society, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded support from More than a Pub.

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“When all pubs were closed as a result of lockdown, The Racehorse was only just finding its feet, having been open less than three months.

“This grant will support us in keeping our project alive with the community until we can reopen.”

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Westhall Community Pub Limited was created to provide a popular facility for the whole community, centred around The Racehorse Pub, which had been closed for some time, the overall aim being to preserve and enhance village life.

Tenancy of the pub was acquired at the end of 2019, with the option to buy outright, and the intention is to do this through a community share programme in 2021.

Steeped in history, the pub – which is said to have been running since at least the mid 1800s – closed in 2017.

Having re-opened in December 2019, the pub was successfully operating for three months before lockdown. So, in an effort to continue to support the community during the pandemic, The Racehorse established a shop, providing store cupboard essentials and access to local produce suppliers, as well as a Friday night takeaway food and drink service.

This grant will now help fund a number of items of equipment, with the service helping those who have difficulty accessing supplies during lockdown as well as providing a leisure facility within current constraints.

James Alcock, Plunkett’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to support Westhall Community Pub Ltd, who have shown such dedication to ensure their pub can continue to be at the heart of the community despite the significant challenges arising from Covid-19.

“Pubs which are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to eat and drink – they become the beating heart of that community, and never more so than at this challenging time.”

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