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Villagers raise money to buy Thorold Arms near Grantham

Villagers in Marston and Hougham are celebrating after they raised enough money to buy their local pub.

The Save The Thorold Arms campaign raised £214,383 through a share offer and online ‘push button’ donations, surpassing their £210,000 target with barely a day to go before an agreed deadline.

The pub has been closed since July 2015 and despite an earlier campaign to buy the pub, it was instead bought at auction by Paul Barmby, a property developer.

Mr Barmby was unable to gain planning permission to turn the pub into a home, leading him earlier this year to agree to sell the pub to the campaigners.

The Thorold Arms Community Benefit Society was formed, which plans to turn the pub into a community hub, incorporating a pub, shop and cafe.

After months of campaigning and fundraising, campaigner Mike Allen said he and wife Sandra are ‘shattered’ and the couple gave a huge thanks to all those who supported the campaign.

Mike told the Journal: “We will be able to progress with the purchase of the pub as agreed. Of course this is just the start and we now have another huge challenge with the renovation work.

“We should have final confirmation about the More Than a Pub grant and loan by the end of the month. Results of the Booster application will be later in August but as things stand we still need £197,567 to complete the renovation and reopen.

“We will be extending the share offer until we know that we have enough funding to do what we need. So it is not too late to invest and be a part of this very exciting new future for our two villages.”

Once the sale is finalised next week, the aim is now to re-open the pub on Friday December 14 but Mike admits there is still much to be done, such as raising all the funds for the refurbishment, finding the contractors and getting the work done.

To celebrate the successful campaign, as well as raise funds for the refurbishment, a hog roast will be held tomorrow from 4pm at the Hougham and Marston Village Hall at Bridge Street, Marston.

And when the pub finally open, the villagers hope for a special visitor- Prince Charles, who once called in at the pub in 2009.

The Prince of Wales was informed of the villagers’ campaign in 2016 and gave his verbal support, giving guidance about the Pub is the Hub campaign, a not-for-profit charity he inspired in 2001.

Mike added: “We will invite him to come and visit.”

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