Applications for shares have come from around the world, from Alaska to Australia, via North Carolina, Scotland and Yorkshire. This reflects the movement of residents who hold fond memories of Ash and the Chequers at the heart of their ‘Home village’.
Matthew Titterton, who originally began the campaign in December 2015 to prevent the pub from turning into housing, said: “We are all very excited and can’t believe that this day has finally arrived. It’s fantastic to know that this wonderful historic pub which has been the heart of the community for hundreds of years will now re-open, and this time there will be no national pub company owning it, but instead a community passionate for it to succeed. We have over 300 shareholders who are determined to make a success of it, and with the right tenant, we really hope that it will be a community pub to be proud of.”
Last year, the Plunkett Foundation published a report on community co-operative pubs. The research showed that the UK’s 50th co-operative pub started trading in June 2017 and none of these pubs had closed since becoming community pubs, maintaining an impressive 100% survival rate.
Plunkett Foundation’s Executive Director James Alcock said: “We’re so pleased to be able to support The Chequer Inn who are working hard to make sure their community can benefit from everything that having a thriving local pub brings. Pubs that are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to buy a drink; they provide important social spaces and services for local people, and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity.”
Jane Greaves, Secretary of The Chequer Inn Ash Society, said: “It’s all very exciting. The committee have a number of working parties to get the pub up and running. Refurbishment will be carried out and we will start looking for a suitable tenant. We are hoping to have an open day for Shareholders in a few weeks, but as it is currently a building site, we have a health and safety team on board so that we can do things properly. We have a very ambitious project plan and we hope to be open by the Autumn.”
Consequently, the group are now able to plan the next stage of the project to Save the Chequer Inn. They are asking shareholders and others locally to consider volunteering to one of the working parties to get the pub ready for refurbishment and ultimately opening.
They need people who can:
– Clear rubbish – into a wagon/skip provided
– Clear the garden – including reclaiming it from the wilderness first and then redesigning/replanting to make it a pleasant place to be.
– Make refreshments!
– Do decorating and general DIY
There will be additional tasks which will need to be undertaken by skilled tradespeople – so if you are a plasterer, tiler, electrician, carpenter, interior designer (etc) and could spare a few hours of your time and expertise at reduced or ideally zero cost it would be very much appreciated. In return, the group would acknowledge your support for all to see. The more that can be achieved by volunteers the further funds will stretch, as well as being another opportunity to bring the community together as we enter a more ‘hands on’ phase of the project.
The committee would like to thank everyone who has believed in the project right from the start, from the initial steering group that helped change the decision of Dover District Council members, to all campaigners, shareholders, investors, organisations and all their social media followers.
For further information on the More Than a Pub programme visit plunkett.co.uk/more-than-a-pub.