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King’s Arms at Shouldham to mark 10 years since being saved from closure with afternoon of celebrations

A community pub, saved from closure 10 years ago, celebrates its success story with an event next month.

The community rallied round the King’s Arms at Shouldham raising thousands to purchase the premises and turn its fortunes around.

Back in 2014, the village became the first in West Norfolk to open a community-owned pub, saving the 18th-century hostelry on the village green from permanent closure and running it for the benefit of all the village and surrounding area.

Kings Arm's at Shouldham will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next month. Pictures: Ian Burt
Kings Arm's at Shouldham will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next month. Pictures: Ian Burt
Kings Arms Shouldham
Kings Arms Shouldham

It closed in 2012 re-opening two years later following sheer determination and hard work by villagers and supporters raising money through grants, fundraising and a share issue.

Ten years on, a big party is planned to mark the success story with an afternoon of celebrations starting at noon on Saturday, May 4.

During the 10 years, the award-winning pub has been crowned West Norfolk CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Pub of the Year in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. It has also been featured in the national Good Food Guide and was a regional winner in the inaugural Parliamentary Pub of the Year competition launched in 2018.

John McGourty, landlady Jo Freeman & chairman Nick Heart
John McGourty, landlady Jo Freeman & chairman Nick Heart

The celebration party will include a speech by the chairperson Nick Hart at 2.30pm and there will be live music from Meg McPartlin followed by the Time Machine in the evening, sprinkled with a little bit of magic from local magician Josh Maddocks at 5.30pm.

Food will be available throughout the day and everyone is welcome to the free event with camping available on Shouldham playing field.

Head chef and manager Jo Freeman, who will be helping the management committee of local volunteers to run the event, said: “We wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made the King’s Arms at Shouldham so successful over the past 10 years: not only the 200 shareholders (nearly all of them locals) who own our pub, but all the organisations, staff, volunteers and friends who have supported us since opening – not forgetting our wonderful regulars from Shouldham and across West Norfolk and beyond.

“What better way of celebrating than throwing a big party?”

Landlady Jo Freeman
Landlady Jo Freeman

Phil Harriss, one of the founders of Shouldham Community Enterprises who was heavily involved with the campaign to save the pub, said: “Even after 10 years, when I go into the King’s Arms and see a bar full of people enjoying themselves I get a huge sense of satisfaction and happiness for what we did. Without all the hard work of many volunteers in Shouldham, we would now be without a village pub and the centre of our communal social life would be gone.”

The King’s Arms is owned and run by Shouldham Community Enterprises, a Community Benefit Society, with more than 200 members who bought community shares in the business.

It is run on cooperative lines by an elected management committee of local volunteers which employs Jo and her staff.

Community Benefit Societies must plough any profits back into the business or donate them to local good causes.

Since rising from the ashes, the pub has been the hub for many community events including beer festivals, a sausage ‘roll off’ challenge, a community cafe and been the hub and setting for many events to raise funds for lots of charities.

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