Villagers in Shouldham are celebrating after a Twitter appeal by Stephen Fry helped sell the final shares in a £150,000 campaign to buy back their pub and run it as a community.
Campaigners received requests to buy shares from America and Canada after Norfolk actor tweeted on Friday, and on Sunday they reached their target by selling the remaining £5,700 shares.
Members of the Shouldham Save Our King’s Arms (SOKA) campaign tweeted: “We did it! We’ve hit our target. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign, invested and given us publicity. You are all stars!”
SOKA secretary, Phill Harriss, said: “I’m sure the tweet helped and it’s really good that Stephen Fry is supporting us with him being so local.
“The campaign started around a year ago and it all snowballed from there. This is great news and now the next important step is to get the grant to buy and renovate the pub.”
The group are in the process of applying for a matched-funding grant from the Social Investment Business (SIB) and have now been shortlisted with 24 other applicants from a list of 250.
SOKA have already had a visit from the SIB to assess the application and project, but now the campaigners must wait to hear the result.
Mr Harriss said: “We’re very hopeful and keeping our fingers crossed now that we are part of the final 25. We should find out next month.
“If we get this grant we would hope to own the building by Christmas and renovate it over January and February-time, going into March when pubs are typically quite quiet.”
He added: “We would be looking to open in Spring and are looking forward to it.
“It’s been a long time since it closed and we do miss the pub. It’s amazing how you lose touch with people when you don’t have a pub to meet in.”
The King’s Arms pub was once one of six pubs in the village which have gradually been whittled down until just one was left, before its closure last year.
The 17th century pub, which overlooks the village green, closed in June forcing residents to start a campaign to buy the £315,000 pub and reopen it as a community venture.
SOKA chairman, John McGourty has said from the start that the group’s aim was to put the pub back at the “heart of village life”.
The building was once the hub of community life in the village, providing a place for people to meet and plan village events such as the annual bike ride and village fete.
SOKA members are even looking at ways the building could be utilised by local community groups to provide further services such as after-school clubs, dementia cafes and even catering Meals on Wheels or school lunches.
Go to www.kingsarmsshouldham.co.uk for more information about the campaign to save Shouldham’s pub.