'I'm just gobsmacked': east Suffolk pub receives £96,000 grant in Budget

The Racehorse in Westhall, which has secured funding from Rishi Sunak's Budget

The Racehorse in Westhall, which has secured funding from Rishi Sunak's Budget - Credit: Racehorse Community Group/PA

A community-run pub in east Suffolk has received a grant of nearly £100,000 in the Budget — securing its future "forevermore".

The Racehorse pub in Westhall, near Halesworth, received a sum of £96,600 from the Community Ownership Fund, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday.

A total of £150 million was set aside for the fund to help communities take ownership of assets and amenities that are at risk of closure.

The Racehorse, which is thought to have been running since at least the mid-1800s, was closed for several years before reopening in December 2019 under the management of the Race for the Racehorse group.

Volunteers from the group applied for the government grant this summer after discovering cash would be made available from the Community Ownership Fund in the Budget.

Since reopening under community management, the Racehorse has proved popular for its Suffolk beers, well-selected wines and home-cooked food.

Chris Punt, who co-founded the Race for the Racehorse group, said he was "gobsmacked" to learn the pub would receive the funds.

The Racehorse reopened in December 2019 after being closed for several years

The Racehorse reopened in December 2019 after being closed for several years - Credit: Racehorse Community Pub

He said the money would allow the group to keep the pub open without a mortgage, which would have cost an estimated £600 a month for the next 20 years.

Most Read

Mr Punt, who is also chairman of Westhall Parish Council, said: "It's a lot of money — I'm a little bit tearful.

"The great thing is now we will not need a mortgage. We were looking at paying about £600 a month, but this grant does away with that money and we can run it rent-free.

"It's a little village pub which has had various tenants over the years. We had a quick turnaround of a few separate tenants, but it was closed for about six years.

"We're mainly run by volunteers and it has gone so well so far.

"This grant secures the pub's future forevermore. People from Halesworth and all the surrounding villages all come here.

"I think everyone will be relieved to hear this news. Once they get down to the pub to have a drink, they will be delighted.

"I'm just gobsmacked."

Mr Sunak described the Budget as recognising "what matters most to the people of the East of England – the health of their loved ones, access to world-class public services and jobs for the future".

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter