The Working Group
These people stepped forward following the open meeting in January 2020 to tell Jim they were interested in working to establish the Blue Bell as a community asset. We are looking for people with legal or company secretarial skills and HR/general management skills to join the team. If you are interested, use the form on the 'Contact' page.
We have established a Community Benefit Society as the legal vehicle for raising funds for purchase of the premises, renovating then and managing the pub itself. This ensures a great deal of accountability to the village and investors.
Paul has a background in the hospitality sector. He has worked as Sous Chef and Head Chef in a number of establishments and has assisted with bar work when required.
Paul currently works as a Senior Operations Manager, overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of government properties across East Anglia, the Midlands and Wales and pushing premises-based projects through to conclusion.
Rebecca has a background in law and accounts, having qualified as a Credit Manager in 1996 and as a Solicitor in 2003. She no longer practices, preferring to work part-time as a Clerk to the Governors for a number of local primary schools, including The Village Saints. This allows her to participate in a number of voluntary activities, including helping with village magazines and fundraising for charities.
Debi has lived in Stoke Ferry with her husband and two children since mid-2018.
She says: 'Not having a place to socialise in the village has been quite isolating and has hindered making new friends. I think having a community hub would benefit not only the older members of the community but having a place where new parents could meet forming a support network is invaluable.'
Steve has lived in Stoke Ferry with his wife and two children since mid-2018. He says; 'When we were viewing our house in the village and the surroundings, we thought what a lovely place to live and bring up our children with picturesque walks and quiet living but unfortunately no village pub. It has now become our passion to try and assist bringing a community asset back to the village and with my experience as a bar man for many years this could be valuable knowledge.'
Retired Business/Systems Analyst and Data Manager; lived in Stoke Ferry for 9 years.
I want Stoke Ferry to maintain its own community - a pub can be there for everyone, morning, afternoon and evening offering companionship and space for meets and could offer services (such as parcel drop-offs) so we can be as self-supporting as possible - this is particularly important now and we have the chance to consolidate a village network over and above our current facilities. If we don’t support ourselves we will become just a satellite of Downham Market.
Jim has a long successful history of running owning and managing hospitality venues; from running pubs in the North East, Sheffield and London to running a community café in Bristol. Jim has an HND in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management as well as a whole raft of management qualifications, He’s lived in Stoke Ferry since relocating from France in 2016. He is currently Vice-Chair of Stoke Ferry Parish Council and chairs the village Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.
For the past twelve years Sandra has worked as a senior executive in the International Development sector, specialising in post-conflict, fragile states.
She began her career working for a large manufacturing company in sales and marketing, before taking up a more senior management role. In 2000, she took over as General Manager of Bristol Blue Glass. She became an accredited business advisor and a fellow of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. With her husband, Jim McNeill, she set up a training and consultancy company, specialising in providing leadership training and support to the charitable and voluntary sector.
Today, as well as being a member of the Save The Blue Bell campaign, Sandra is also a member of the Stoke Ferry Neighbourhood Plan steering group.
Biog to follow
Stephen Ward has been living in Stoke Ferry since 2017. His parents have fond memories of their 'courting' days in the village's pubs and so they are delighted that he is working to rescue the Blue Bell.
Stephen was the founding Deputy Chair and Communications Director of Pride in London from 2013-2017, where he developed campaigns that helped rebuild the event following years of decline. By day he regulates lawyers.