Villagers are celebrating after raising more than £200,000 to help save their local pub.
People in Slaley, Northumberland, rallied round to raise funds in an effort to buy the well-loved Rose and Crown.
The group needed to raise a minimum of £130,000 but have surpassed the sum by collecting a massive £203,000 in less than three months.
As part of the campaign, potential shareholders were asked to invest at least £500 each in Slaley Community Assets Ltd (SCAL). The cash would then be used to secure a mortgage towards the final £250,000 purchase price.
Now the group will have to borrow less money from the banks.
Eileen Tuohy, 50, who has lived in Slaley for three years, said: “The plan was to raise a minimum of £130,000 and we would have then borrowed the rest of the money from the bank to make up the £250,000.
“But the fact that we have collected £203,000 means we will have to borrow a lot less from the banks and we can put a lot more money back into the pub and other facilities.
“We are extremely pleased with the response of people. We have had tremendous support. Everyone in the village has been involved as well as people from other areas. Between 200 and 250 people have helped the campaign in some way.
“We have around 85 investors. Some have donated £500 and some have given much more than that. All this has helped to raise the funds we required to save the pub.
“We have also had immense help from a number of experts and professionals, like law firms and accountants. This shows that people clearly care about the Rose and Crown. We will now be able to go ahead and purchase it.”
The share offer closes on July 24 and the purchase will be completed in early August. The team still has time to raise more cash and they hope to collect as much as possible to boost the sum further.
UK taxpayers who invest before the deadline can receive EIS tax relief of 30%, so a £500 investment will cost £350 in real terms, while dividends will still be paid on the £500.
The co-operative is now in the process of recruiting a couple to rebuild the inn and get the restaurant back up and running.
Norman Watson, chairman of the co-operative, said: “We’ve had fantastic support so far. It’s really important for us to keep local services and to protect the future of Slaley as a great place to visit, live and work.
“The more people who buy shares from us now, the less we will need to borrow from the bank and we can invest more in the pub and pay dividends to shareholders rather than interest on loans.”
The inn dates back to the 17th Century and has been at the heart of village life for many years. Its owner, Marston’s brewery, agreed to sell the site and Slaley Community Trust lodged an application to make it a community asset.
Villagers are hoping the pub will become a focal point for activities and be used as a meeting place for clubs and societies.
Sir Michael Darrington, a villager trustee who has led negotiations, has campaigned to save it over the years, previously saying: “We want the Rose and Crown to be an asset to the community.”
For more information visit www.slaleyroseandcrown.co.uk or ring David Allsop on 01434 673686.