Somerset Village Pub Celebrates Under Community Ownership

The villagers of Stoke Saint Gregory on the Somerset Levels, are in high spirits, as their Heart of The Village Project, (HOTV ) is reaching a significant milestone with bringing their pub, The Royal Oak, back into use, pulling pints and much more.

FIRST ORDERS: Local residents raise a glass or two, in celebration of the Royal Oak in Stoke St Gregory reopening its doors under Community ownership.

After three years of hard work, the village pub, which also serves as the Village Shop, Café and part time Post Office, is now open again, thanks to the dedication of its community shareholders and many volunteers who have transformed the empty premises into a community pub, cafe and garden.

The Royal Oak had its grand re-opening, (although confined to the restored garden, due to Covid restrictions), with a great turn-out of villagers coming to celebrate the return of their local hostelry, which lies in the heart of the village.

The 1st pint was pulled by eighty years old, Pete Nicholas and his wife, Sue, who have lived in the village all their lives. Pete was born in one of the rooms upstairs of the pub. Pete’s father ran the pub for 9 years back in the 40’s and he is pictured (attached) as a 12 year old sitting on the front door step of the pub.

Visitors have been ecstatic about the transformation of The Royal Oak.

The village can be proud of what has been achieved. It looks amazing and hopefully will bring some much needed good cheer in these challenging times.

Everyone is really impressed with how nice it looks and the village as a whole is pleased to have its pub back and its shop saved in the process.

A spokesperson said “So many wonderful people have supported the local communities throughout the Covid pandemic and we applaud our “community superstars” for the hundreds of voluntary hours they have given to achieve this milestone”.

“The Pub will open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until May 17th, when we hope that we will be able to extend our opening hours and include inside tables.

Our Shop in the Pub has been leading the way and showing by example that community pubs are more than just pubs, they are diverse hubs of community involvement even at a time of social distancing. We have seen enterprising, innovative and evolving ideas emerge, keeping people and the Stoke St Gregory village community safely connected.”

Despite facing one of the toughest challenges on record, our volunteers continued to go above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic, they continued to fly the HOTV flag in the face of unprecedented challenges, since the first lockdown was announced, which have been highlighted and exacerbated over the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic

Stoke Saint Gregory, was in danger of losing its heart. Its Pub closed and in the past year, its only shop closed and moved into a temporary shipping container.

The Community clubbed together and raised sufficient funds to buy the pub. It has been all hands to the pumps ever since.

When the first national ‘lockdown’ arrived in March 2020, for us it was never an option to stand our volunteers and services down, we kept our team focused on their missions and committed to finding new ways of remaining available and responsive to those that need us.

For all of us it meant finding novel ways of working and embracing improvisation and learning. It has been, and continues to be, a hugely challenging and exhausting period. Managing the extreme uncertainty caused by the pandemic has been at the heart of our response.

Spokesperson, Graham Gleed The village community has a very optimistic outlook in establishing a newly refurbished Pub and Hub for the village, owned by the community for the community”.