Celebrating CAMRA's National Pub Saving Award
CAMRA (the campaign for real ale) presented the national Pub Saving Award to the Blue Bell Pub & Café in Stoke Ferry on Saturday, 16th April 2022.
The community bought the pub on 30th June 2021 after a year-long campaign to oppose its redevelopment as houses and a share sale to raise funds. The purchase was made possible by a grant from the Plunkett Foundation, a loan from the Key Fund, a grant from the Parish Council and £120,000 of shares bought by supporters.
As soon as the pub was in community hands, volunteers got to work clearing the very messy and neglected grounds and building, which was suffering the effects of a flood from a water pipe the winter before. The premises were stripped right back and a thorough renovation began which is transforming an unloved building back into a village gem and a valuable asset for the community. The reopened Pub & Café will continue a tradition of hospitality on the site stretching back to 1794. It was this effort and achievement that won the Blue Bell the CAMRA Pub Saving award.
The organizing committee of Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Limited and volunteers who have been working hard to buy, renovate and, soon, reopen the Blue Bell as a community pub and café celebrated with a barbecue in the pub grounds and made first use of the newly-installed beer taps.
The Blue Bell grounds were packed with many shareholders in the pub, villagers and friends and family of those who have been working so hard on the project, enjoying the warm, sunny day.
CAMRA Regional Director, Andrea Briers said: "Congratulations to the team who worked to save the Blue Bell in Stoke Ferry on winning CAMRA's National Pub Saving Award. There were many challenges along the way and I am delighted that they have succeeded in saving this vital community facility and wish them luck for the future."
Chair of Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Limited, Stephen Ward, said: ‘There could be no better recognition of the community’s efforts to bring the last pub in the village back to life than this Pub Saving award from CAMRA. People came together to fund the purchase, to renovate the building, which is now nearing completion, and to transform the grounds. So this is an award for the whole village. Look out for the date of our full opening being announced very soon.’
Chair of Stoke Ferry Parish Council, Sue Lintern said: ‘The Parish Council, with the backing of the community, supported this project at a critical moment with a grant of £10,000 and this award from CAMRA shows that was an excellent investment. Stoke Ferry has been energized by this project to create a pub-café that is destined to become a key community asset alongside our Village Hall and Playing Fields.