It’s not the latest beer dispenser or top-of-the-range digital gaming machine, it’s a projector and pull-down screen. This is how pubs are learning to adapt and thrive in rural communities; by encompassing much more than food, drink and entertainment.
At the Stoke Canon Inn the pub has been run entirely by a committee of volunteers drawn from the village for six years. They quickly learned that they had to become the hub of their cultural, social and economic life if they were to be viable and their latest adaptation is to introduce facilities for training courses and community meetings.
Stoke Canon Inn’s secretary Maureen Mitchell works for the south west office of the RSPB and had been borrowing their projector and screen to run courses on bird watching at the pub. After a conversation with Pub is The Hub’s regional advisor, Reg Clarke she decided to apply for a grant from their Community Services Fund to buy a projector and screen for the pub. The grant for £400 was approved and the pub now has its brand new facility installed for the community to use.
Chairwoman of the pub committee Alison Bloomer said: “As volunteers on the committee for the Stoke Canon Inn, few of us actually drink very much but we all strongly believe in the principle of a community pub in a village. We always run a very active entertainment programme but this support from Pub is The Hub has enabled us to broaden our horizons into useful training facilities, meeting support and we are even looking into cinema nights.”
She added: “We have learnt never to stand still in this business. We have also just refurbished and installed a children’s playground in the pub garden with the proceeds from our bi-monthly quizzes and lots of voluntary labour.”
Pub is The Hub set up its Community Services Fund in 2013 to help pubs like the Stoke Canon Inn who want to provide additional services and activities for their rural communities. They constantly raise donations to maintain the fund from government, pub owners and drinks suppliers. In Stoke Canon Inn’s case their funding was donated by Sam Houston when he ran the Frankfurt Marathon for the German beer brand Krombacher Lager.
Sam donated all of his sponsorship money to the fund saying: “I work in the drinks and pub trade and I was keen to put something back. With Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund, I know that it goes straight back to fantastic community pubs like this one!”