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Community campaign to save last pub in village wins national award

PUBLISHED: 14:57 29 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:57 29 November 2019

Campaign to save village pub wins award. Michelle Alderton, the Retail Mutual, James Alcock, chief executive Plunkett Foundation, Rosie Begg, winner, and Charlie Luxton, Plunkett centenary ambassador. Pictures: Plunkett Foundation

Campaign to save village pub wins award. Michelle Alderton, the Retail Mutual, James Alcock, chief executive Plunkett Foundation, Rosie Begg, winner, and Charlie Luxton, Plunkett centenary ambassador. Pictures: Plunkett Foundation

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A community campaign to buy the last pub in a Norfolk village has won a national award.

Campaign to save village pub wins award. Alex Begg, winner. Pictures: Plunkett FoundationCampaign to save village pub wins award. Alex Begg, winner. Pictures: Plunkett Foundation

The Swan in Gressenhall, near Dereham, stopped trading in July last year and hundreds of people have joined the fight to stop its demolition.

Gressenhall Community Enterprise (GCE) wants to buy the pub and bring it under community ownership.

And it beat competition from across the UK to receive the One to Watch Award, sponsored by The Retail Mutual, from national charity the Plunkett Foundation.

Its detailed plans for the future of the pub and the effort to engage the community impressed the judges of the Plunkett 2019 Rural Community Business Awards.

An artist's impression of what The Swan in Gressenhall could look like following a £150,000 redevelopment. Picture: Courtesy of Gressenhall Community EnterpriseAn artist's impression of what The Swan in Gressenhall could look like following a £150,000 redevelopment. Picture: Courtesy of Gressenhall Community Enterprise

Alex Begg, from Gressenhall GCE, said: "We are extremely proud, this is something that's for all of Gressenhall, all of our supporters and the hard work that everyone has put in to get to this stage. We are really inspired to use this recognition to go the rest of the distance and get our village a great community pub."

The Plunkett Foundation supports rural communities across the UK to tackle the issues they face through community business.

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James Alcock, the foundation's chief executive, said the community business would be an inspiration to others. He added: "Gressenhall is working tirelessly to outline its vision for The Swan, and along the way engaging the community and local organisations to show that, if it is successful, it will be a pub that truly is at the heart of the community."

Twenty one community businesses were shortlisted for the business Awards.

Michelle Alderton, marketing executive at the Retail Mutual, said: "Despite its challenges and being in the early stages of developing the business, Gressenhall is the one to watch as its collaboration with the community sits right at the heart of every step it takes in the process."

The awards ceremony took place on November 27 at Burlington House in London and the winners were presented with a cheque for £250.

Alastair Simpson, owner of The Swan, is looking to demolish the pub and turn it into housing.

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