Talk about a welcome sight! So far as shows of confidence go, Mark Brooks can hardly have hoped for more as he prepared to launch the venture that has saved a village pub.
Opening The Wheatsheaf in Titchfield for the first time since securing the lease, he found a crowd queuing in true British style to get in.
Full marks to the people of Titchfield and to members of the Campaign for Real Ale for such a visible demonstration of support for Mark’s glass half-full commitment to maintaining the popular community pub.
‘I didn’t know it was all going to happen quite like this’ was his first reaction in what was certainly an understatement of his delight at the faith shown in him by villagers.
Of course, just as Rome was not built in a day, the continued success of The Wheatsheaf will require a regular procession of people through its doors.
But the enhanced sense of community spirit that followed Mark’s decision to take over the pub he previously managed can surely only help its long-term prosperity.
As we have said before, ultimately pubs must attract trade if they are to survive, and Mark Brooks speaks knowledgeably about what attributes a good pub needs to ensure that.
But we remain convinced that the pub trade is a unique business.
It provides us with meeting places that are at the very heart of our communities and it battles against taxation levels that would make most other industries wince at the sight of a fast-disappearing bottom line on the profit and loss ledger.
So it is incumbent on government, primarily at a national level but also locally as well, to find practical ways in which to help people like Mark and his customers, who are determined not to lose an important part of Titchfield’s daily life.
In the meantime we raise our glasses to The Wheatsheaf and wish it well.
It is just the sort of pub that our Love Your Local campaign celebrates and we wish it every success for the future.