Campaigners who saved a pub in Ryton and made it the first community pub in the Tyne Valley have received a national award for their efforts from the Campaign for Real Ale.
CAMRA’s Pub Saving Award recognises communities who have successfully rescued pubs from closure. Friends of Ye Olde Cross scooped the crown for successfully re-opening their valued local as a community pub after it closed in 2018.
Friends of Ye Olde Cross registered the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and with the help of the Plunkett Foundation and the Power to Change ‘More than a Pub’ programme, they developed a business plan and share offer to buy the pub as a community.
They established a Community Benefit Society which more than 300 locals invested in, raising £150,000 to purchase the pub. Further fundraising and a team of hardworking volunteers allowed them to completely transform the pub interior, and it re-opened in July 2019. Today, Ye Olde Cross runs a number of community events, including a regular quiz and open mic night, yoga lessons, food pop-ups, business networking, a yarn group and book club.
Colin Chessman from the Friends of Ye Olde Cross said: “Friends of Ye Olde Cross are honoured and proud to be chosen for this prestigious award. It is testimony to the commitment and effort of the community who all pulled together to raise funds to buy the pub.
“The renovation continues – as does the successful day to day running of the pub – by our appointed tenants, who have really embraced the concept of developing a successful community pub.”
Runner-up in the competition is the Three Tuns Action Group, which is responsible for re-opening a historic 17th-century pub in Guilden Morden, Cambs. The Three Tuns was closed by Greene King and sold to a developer in 2014 but thanks to the efforts of the local community, they were able to buy back the pub and refurbish the interior, the tenant flat and the half-acre garden. Over 500 people attended the official pub launch in August, and community activities are now starting to take root including Tuns Talks, Walk & Talk and the Bar Games night.
Chairman of the Guilden Morden Community Pub Limited, John Harrison, said: “Thank you to CAMRA for recognising our fight to save the Three Tuns, we are very proud to receive this award. It took a determined campaign committee, the dedication of many volunteers and the financial support of over 270 shareholders to achieve this.
“To see the pub thriving and busy and being used by all the community is fantastic. The quality of the food and drink and the warm welcome that our tenants, Megan and Peter, offer has really placed our community-owned village pub on the map. Not only has this Asset of Community Value been restored to the heart of the village of Guilden Morden for the first time in 6 years, but its future is now secure.”
The Pub Saving Award has been announced in conjunction with CAMRA’s latest campaign to highlight the important role that pubs play in combatting loneliness and social isolation. As part of the campaign, pubs are invited to share their community events for CAMRA to help cross-promote and use to encourage pub-going during the winter months.
Co-ordinator of the Pub Saving Award Paul Ainsworth said: “Congratulations to the Friends of the Ye Olde Cross and the Three Tuns Action Group. We’ve had more nominations for this award than ever before, which shows how much momentum is behind these type of community-driven campaigns. The more examples out there of people taking action to save their beloved local, the more others will be empowered to make a difference in their local communities. It is a real privilege to be able to highlight these efforts.
“Pubs can be a real lifeline to many people, providing support and a social network in times of need. That’s why we’ve also launched a campaign to highlight the role that pubs play in tackling loneliness. I encourage anyone who is looking to make new friends to visit their local today.”