Race under way as villagers rally round to save their pub

The village pub, The Racehorse, which has been closed for 18 months. Picture: The Race for The Raceh

The village pub, The Racehorse, which has been closed for 18 months. Picture: The Race for The Racehorse - Credit: Archant

The starter gun may have been fired, but the race to save an historic pub is gathering pace as villagers rally round to save their local.

A campaign group has been launched as the community around the village of Westhall have joined forces in a bid to buy the village pub, The Racehorse, and re-open it as a community-owned pub.

The pub, said to have been running since at least the mid 1800s, closed 18 months ago and is now up for sale. At a public meeting six months ago a group of villagers were appointed to look into the feasibility of taking over the pub.

Since then the group - Race for The Racehorse! – has organised pop-up pub evenings in the village hall as well as a village barbecue to keep people up to date with developments.

And now the fundraising campaign to buy The Racehorse will be launched at a public meeting at Westhall Village Hall on Thursday, September 27 and anyone with an interest in finding out more, or supporting the pub through buying shares in it, is invited to attend.

Villagers are expecting a big turnout, and chairman of the campaign group Nick Hoare said: “After all, it’s not every day you get a chance to own a pub!”

A spokesman for group added: “With pubs closing at a rate of two per day, the people of Westhall and the surrounding villages are determined to make sure they don’t lose their pub.”

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Brenda Smith, group secretary, added; “We’ve been really pleased with the support of villagers as well as those further afield – Brampton, Ringsfield, Spexhall – who value having a ‘local’ they can pop in to, catch up with friends, enjoy a good meal and a natter.”

Working with community facilities such as the village hall, ideas about what the pub might offer range from film nights with fish and chips to book clubs and the group is keen to ensure that a range of events bring locals through the door on a regular basis.

The Racehorse is now registered as an asset of community value – meaning that the village secures the option to buy if someone else puts in an offer - and a Community Benefit Society has been established to manage the purchase and running of it. To find out more visit www.westhallpub.com