GLASSES of champagne and pints of beer were raised to celebrate securing the future of a pub thanks to an innovative grants scheme.
It has been given £50,000 from the Bridging the Gap scheme, which is managed by the Solent Local Enterprise partnership and was set up in conjunction with The News to support fledgling businesses.
We applied three times and were turned down twice. But we didn’t give up and have now been awarded £50,000 and we’re absolutely delighted.Rob Stark
After years of complex negotiations and hard physical graft, the Fox & Hounds pub in Denmead reopened its doors last December.
The 200-year-old hostelry was saved from demolition by a huge community effort which saw hundreds of thousands of pounds raised in donations and loans.
It employs 11 full-time members of staff and, thanks to the LEP, its future has been secured with a £50,000 grant.
Rob Stark, the man behind the four-year campaign to save the pub, in School Lane, explained: ‘We were lucky enough to secure a Bridging the Gap Loan.
‘It’s awarded to companies that can create employment and they help bridge any funding gap there is.
‘We applied three times and were turned down twice. But we didn’t give up and have now been awarded £50,000 and we’re absolutely delighted.
‘One of the things that’s unusual about it being awarded to us is that it’s the first time funding has been awarded to a co-operative.
‘We now have 11 full-time equivalent and that will eventually rise to 13.’
He added: ‘It’s a community hub – much like a mini community centre.
‘It’s certainly brought the village together.’
Steve Futter, senior account manager at Solent LEP, said: ‘We are delighted that Rob and his colleagues at the Fox and Hounds persevered and that the project has brought a much loved community asset back into such vibrant use.
‘They have also created a wide range of employment opportunities, contributing to the 478 jobs created and safeguarded by Bridging the Gap to date.’
For more see solentlep.org.uk.