When I turned the corner into Paul Gannon’s garden and saw the geodesic dome against the Northwold skyline, this project became somehow more real for me. The whole focus of it is to create a social space that serves the village, and suddenly, here it was.
The question was, would people come?
It was incredibly generous of TwistUp! to donate the dome and their expertise and time in erecting it, and it served its purpose incredibly well. Decked out in flowers, with a baronial chandelier out of an Errol Flynn movie, our frenzied efforts soon added that most important of pub qualities – an atmosphere. Here was a place to entertain for the weekend.
The question was, would people come? That was soon answered as smiling faces appeared at the doorway to be met with a bigger welcome than Norm in the TV series 'Cheers'. I’ve never worked behind a bar before, so it was a steep learning curve that became not just steep but a bit wiggly the more of the lovely draught ale I supped. I have a new appreciation of the multitasking skills of bar staff. Despite its demands, at several moments I had the chance to just stand back and watch a tent full of villagers chatting and laughing together and I thought, this…this is what we’re doing it for. It was a cracking start.
Despite my pounding head, we were back at it the second day because we were upping the game by providing a roast dinner. We underestimated the demand for this and all 50 tickets were sold within a couple of days. Becky Raven and her crew did a fabulous job of catering for us, and I, from firsthand experience, can attest that it was delicious. We got to Sunday night tired and a little emotional, but with a real feeling that we’d put our campaign truly on the map.
What I loved especially about the whole experience was meeting people from my village for the first time and seeing lots of new connections being made.
So, what do you do after a triumphant debut? Well, obviously you keep the momentum going by doing it all over again a couple of weeks later. The roastie wasn’t an option this time, so instead we organised a fish ‘n’ chip supper courtesy of the hard-frying team at Rumbles, who also made a contribution to our fund. A big thanks to them. Again, we had the worry of whether people would come. We hadn’t had the chance to spread the word as much, so a lot depended on the Northwold grapevine. Luckily that is obviously in fine working order. It was a bit slow at the noon opening time, but gradually built up as the afternoon progressed until, by 5pm, we were heaving. A successful sitting of fish and chips brought people flocking in, and from there until closing it was manic. This time I served with a little less of the ale to sustain me, which was probably a good thing all round.
What I loved especially about the whole experience was meeting people from my village for the first time and seeing lots of new connections being made. New people visited for this second opening as well as our ‘regulars’. We raised a goodly sum but that wasn’t the main motivation. To be honest, we’d have to run these for years to raise enough money. What we raised, that was more important, was an awareness of what this village has been missing, and just how important – and desired – a pub is. We now have a third in the offing at a new location, and we plan to run a bar at this year’s carnival. Labour aren’t the only people to have momentum…
In other, enormous, news, we’ve had an application for grants and loans for a total of £100,000 conditionally granted. Those involved in the application did a lot of late nights on the completion of the forms, and are now being sought by the Brexit negotiators for a bit of help. Along with the pledges we already have, our fund now has something like £170,000 in the virtual bank.
That still leaves us with a long way to go, so please, please, support us in any way you can. We’ll be holding our actual share launch soon so hope to turn pledges into shares and get even more share purchases in.
Thanks to the Steering Committee and their helpers for their hard work in making the pop-up pub happen, to the villagers who turned out - sometimes in less than clement weather - to support the cause, to Paul for the loan of his garden, his hard-drinking friends, and early morning coffees, to TwistUp! for their kind loan of the dome, and to Becky for a great roastie. This is turning into a great communal effort.
If you’d like to help us with future events please contact 01366 308381 and leave your details or email [email protected]
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