A pub has been saved from closure by a group of people who bought their local and turned its fortunes around.
The Harrow in Stockbury, Kent, is now a thriving community hub that hosts social lunches for vulnerable people and book swaps, and is an internet cafe.
In recognition of their work, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) awarded the pub its Pub Saving Award for 2017.
It was put up for sale in 2016 and was on the brink of closure until a group of campaigners raised the £380,000 needed to buy it from Shepherd Neame.
The pub reopened its doors in August after receiving backing from 140 shareholders, the Plunkett Foundation, which helps rural communities, and community pub support programme More Than A Pub.
Paul Ainsworth, who organises Camra’s Pub Saving Award, said: ‘The Harrow group used every tool available to save their beloved pub from closure, and it is an absolute delight to celebrate this with our Pub Saving Award.
‘Once a pub is closed, it is too often lost forever and their success should be a great inspiration to other communities faced with losing their local – pubs really can be saved.’
Nicole Hamilton of the Plunkett Foundation, said: ‘The Plunkett Foundation were delighted to be involved in judging the Pub Saving Award and encouraged to see so many strong applications from communities who actively campaigned to save their local pub.
‘The Harrow, supported by the More Than A Pub programme, is a shining example of what can be achieved and through a strong campaign have ensured their community pub business meets the wider needs of their community and members.’
The runner-up in the competition was the Craufurd Arms Community Group, which saved the last pub in North Maidenhead after residents and their MP, Prime Minister Theresa May, all got involved.
More than 200 local residents invested in the pub, helping to raise £325,000 to buy it and turn it into a thriving community business.
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