Villagers are celebrating the reopening of their local bar after raising $500,000 over ten years.
Locals have fought for a decade to prevent property developers from converting The Rising Sun into new dwellings.
The community organization ‘Save Our Sun’ worked diligently through fundraisers and activities to gather about a half million pounds in order to purchase the building, which had been vacant for a decade and fallen into disrepair, before undertaking marathon refurbishment work themselves.
The tavern in Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, has been revived as both a drinking establishment and a community center.
“This is a credit not just to the hard work of the committee and community members who have joined together to assist with repairs,” said Michelle Hayes, chair of their fundraising non-profit Save Our Sun.
“They believed in this concept and are supporting the bar, transforming it into a truly remarkable community hub now that it is open.”
The bar was closed in October 2011 and a developer purchased it in 2012.
Lynne Fletcher, who lived approximately 60 yards away from the pub at the time of its closure, reported that the real estate brokers told her it was being sold as a pub, thus the community was initially unconcerned…
“The first sign that something was off was when a neighbor asked a worker when the business would reopen,” said Fletcher. He assured him, “It will never again be a pub, pal.”
Residents fought planning applications and appeals, and in 2013 the Forest of Dean District Council designated The Rising Sun as a community asset.
The new owners, who had purchased the bar with the intention of converting it into two semi-detached residences, finally decided to sell it to the Save Our Sun organization at the end of last year after years of conflict.
In order to purchase the pub earlier this year, the community sold shares for £100 each and raised almost £300,000 through fundraising events, with a grant from the government adding an additional £175,000.
The Rising Sun, which had been closed for almost a decade and had fallen into ruin, reopened this week following months of restoration work by volunteers.
The locals have already celebrated the achievement of their hard work with an open mic night at the local tavern..,
Fletcher remarked, “It was a terrific local pub where everyone got to know each other.”
“The bar will also serve as a community center for volunteer organizations, such as those that collect the elderly and isolated for coffee mornings, parent and toddler groups, and career skills and clubs. We also have a common space on the second floor,” Hayes noted.