Pub is the Hub scheme set to help 76 rural pubs, including potentially in Suffolk and Essex, to diversify

Cheers! Villagers raise a cuppa for the new cafe at the Lamarsh Lion Picture: PUB IS THE HUB

Cheers! Villagers raise a cuppa for the new cafe at the Lamarsh Lion Picture: PUB IS THE HUB - Credit: Archant

A scheme set to give a new lease of life to rural pubs has been given a £188k boost by government.

The Pub in The Hub project is set to support 76 new diversification schemes across England with the cash, helping them to expand to include post offices, grocery shop, libraries and children’s play areas.

Communities minister Jake Berry, announcing the new projects on Monday, March 25, said pubs were “at the heart of local communities”, supporting thousands of jobs and providing places for local residents to not only enjoy a pint, but also to get together.

MORE – Entrepreneur snaps up village pub to save it from closure“The encouragement, advice and support given by the Pub is The Hub is proving invaluable in helping rural pubs expand their offer,” he said.

The scheme was launched in 2001 and since 2013 has handed out more than half a million pounds to help develop services in pubs.

Among the beneficiaries of the scheme to date is the ancient Lamarsh Lion pub at Lamarsh in north Essex, whose oldest customer, Gerry Loudoun-Shand, 85, officially opened their new community café and games room earlier this year. It closed without warning in May 2016 and was later bought by the community.

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Pub is The Hub adviser Terry Stork, encouraged the community to convert the barn next to the pub into a café and games room for residents and visitors to the area. Pub is The Hub contributed towards the cost with a £3k grant from its Community Services Fund.

John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub said: “This funding will be welcomed by many projects and will be a huge boost for thousands of people living in, and visiting, rural communities.

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“Services and activities delivered by professional pub licensees through their businesses can provide a wide range of benefits; basic groceries, library books, training courses, outlets for local suppliers and new jobs - all delivering improved levels of well-being through vital social connections.”

The minister is writing to all the major players in the pubs and drinks industry, urging them to join government in supporting village locals right across the country.

Pub is the Hub was set up to help improve community services and activities in primarily rural areas and is staffed mainly by volunteers.

A Pub is the Hub spokeswoman said the scheme is not releasing a list of the beneficiaries at this stage.

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