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‘The atmosphere was terrific’ - Hundreds turn out in show of support for Suffolk pub’s £1.6m restoration project

PUBLISHED: 16:37 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 14 May 2018

People in Wickham Market gathered to launch the share scheme to save The George pub. Picture: JULIAN EVANS

People in Wickham Market gathered to launch the share scheme to save The George pub. Picture: JULIAN EVANS

Archant

More than 200 people turned out in a show of support for a fire-damaged Suffolk village pub’s saviour plans.

A photograph of Derek and Margaret Stebbings' wedding celebrations at The George in 1960. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE FAMILYA photograph of Derek and Margaret Stebbings' wedding celebrations at The George in 1960. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE FAMILY

The team behind The George Community Pub project in Wickham Market invited villagers to attend a photo-shoot on Saturday to celebrate the launch of a community share scheme.

The scheme hopes to raise £300,000 towards the estimated £1.6million cost of reviving The George, which was devastated in a major fire five years ago.

Organisers wanted to kick-start the scheme with a “big display of community support”.

A spokesman for the project said “the atmosphere was terrific” on Saturday. “The noise and excitement built as the church clock rang 12 and everybody came onto the square,” he added.

Alexander Nicoll, who represents Wickham Market at Suffolk County Council, addressed the crowd with a megaphone and thanked people for attending.

Visitors were given a free drinks voucher to redeem when the George reopens – and were also able to submit completed share application forms. The project spokesman said the table for the free vouchers was “very busy” and many forms were handed in.

Wickham Market couple Derek and Margaret Stebbings also brought a photograph from a gathering they had outside the old George after their wedding in 1960.

“This has sparked many fond memories of village life and, with their 60th wedding anniversary due in two years’ time, we hope it will coincide with the reopening of the New George,” the spokesman added.

“Celebrations all round – thank you Derek and Margaret.”

The Grade II listed George is situated in the heart of Wickham Market’s conservation area and has been an ongoing concern in the village ever since the fire in 2013. Despite its current appearance, heritage experts have confirmed it can be reconstructed, retaining its listed status.

The spokesman added: “The George Pub represents a challenge for the village. The target for raising shares is £300k and the minimum the community needs to raise to buy the pub is £100k. It’s a big target and although the minimum share-holding is £50 we encourage all that can afford it to invest more. Other villages have achieved this and if we all pull together there is no doubt we can save the George”.

Visit The George’s website for more information.

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