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Community heroes honoured for Stoke Ferry pub campaign work

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The efforts of a West Norfolk community to restore and reopen their village pub have been given national recognition.

Senior officials of the Blue Bell campaign in Stoke Ferry have hailed the “community heroes” who saw the project scoop a top prize at the Plunkett Foundation’s Rural Community Business Awards.

The campaign, which aims to have the pub fully operational again by next spring, won the Volunteering category at the ceremony, which was held in London and hosted by the broadcaster Dame Prue Leith on Thursday.

Volunteers from the Blue Bell in Stoke Ferry receive their award from Prue Leith (53389122)
Volunteers from the Blue Bell in Stoke Ferry receive their award from Prue Leith (53389122)

More than 70 people are giving up their time to help the renovation work, while UK Power Networks also got behind the scheme through their corporate voluntary programme.

Jim McNeill, the project’s volunteer co-ordinator, said: “I was proud to accept this award on behalf of all our volunteers and also for the great team from UK Power Networks who carried out two days amazing corporate volunteering.

“Each of our 72 volunteers is a community hero.

The Blue Bell, Stoke Ferry (50200053)
The Blue Bell, Stoke Ferry (50200053)

“The changes they have brought about at the Blue Bell and to our village itself are staggering.

“Their success came from our original approach when we fostered a creative, solutions-focussed, and positive approach.

“But our Blue Bell volunteers have had an even greater positive impact on our village than we had dared hope.”

The village’s parish council chairman, Sue Lintern, added: “On behalf of Stoke Ferry Parish Council I would like to send our Congratulations to all the Blue Bell team.

“You have all worked so very hard and deserve this win. You have made our village very proud. We look forward to celebrating with you when the pub opens in spring 2022.”

The re-emergence of the Blue Bell as a community hub follows a long-running campaign by villagers for it to be preserved as a pub, rather than being sold as a private house.

An agreement for the village to purchase the pub was finally completed last year.

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