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Villagers called on for ‘big display of community support’ to save fire damaged George pub

PUBLISHED: 11:24 06 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 07 May 2018

The community is trying to save The George, which was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2013. Picture: SU ANDERSON

The community is trying to save The George, which was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2013. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Archant

A Suffolk village is being asked to gather for a “flash mob” photograph as a show of support to save their fire damaged pub.

The pub has been covered in scaffolding for much of the time since the fire. Picture: SIMON PARKERThe pub has been covered in scaffolding for much of the time since the fire. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The team working to resurrect The George in Wickham Market – five years after the pub was devastated by a major blaze – are holding the event to launch a community share scheme.

The George Community Pub Group estimates it needs to raise around £300,000 by selling shares to the community – and hopes to kick-start the scheme with a “big display of community support”.

Villagers are being urged to attend Wickham Market Square at noon on Saturday, May 12, and “bring the family, dogs and all”.

In a plea to villagers, the group has posted flyers saying: “To achieve Lottery funding and save the George we need a big display of community support. So let’s show them how much we want to get rid of that scaffolding.”

The photo shoot will take place in Wickham Market Square. Picture: SIMON PARKERThe photo shoot will take place in Wickham Market Square. Picture: SIMON PARKER

People attending the photo-shoot will receive a free drinks voucher to redeem when the George reopens. They will also be able to learn more about the share scheme, which will see a prospectus and application form sent to every household in the village. A similar scheme helped villagers in Washbrook raise £90,000 to save the Brook Inn, while other Suffolk pubs to be taken over by the community include the Sorrel Horse in Shottisham, the Duke of Marlborough in Somersham and the Case is Altered in Bentley.

Last week, a group of villagers in Laxfield bought the King’s Head from Adnams.

Wickham Market’s community efforts began last year, after the previous owners submitted plans to demolish and replace the building, which were rejected by planners.

Since then, a committee has been looking at various options for the pub and meeting with groups such as the Plunkett Foundation. A meeting in February heard that the overall cost of saving the pub would be around £1.6m and could take up to three years.

With grants expected to cover £1.3m, the community share scheme is hoped to cover the remaining £300,000.

“We need to raise a lot of money from shares and grants and it’s important that we show the level of support from our community,” the group said. “The big photograph will be our message to show how much this means to our village.”

Visit www.wmgeorge.co.uk for more information.

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