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Save our Ship backers come forward to help restore pub

More than £100,000 has been pledged to re-open an Aldwick pub.


Supporters of the campaign to revive The Ship Inn have came forward in large numbers before official fundraising starts.


A total of £42,650 was committed at a Friends of the Ship Inn meeting on Tuesday to add to £63,500 pledged beforehand.


Friends steering committee member Alison Terry said: “This is a flying start from the great people of Aldwick.”


About 200 people had packed into Mosse Hall at St Richard’s Church to find out the latest details about how the pub could become a hub for people in the area.


Roger Beam, the Friends’ chairman, told the meeting the campaign was a golden chance for the pub to come to life again.


Mr Beam said: “It’s a magnificent turnout. It’s as good as our initial meeting in September and it’s really heartening to see. We have come a long way since then.


“Re-opening the pub works financially but it only works if we can raise the money from the community. You have to look at this as a community investment and not a commercial investment. You are investing in the community.”


He outlined the need for £710,000 to buy and equip the pub. It was hoped £500,000 of that would come from a community share issue in a new company, Aldwick Community Society.


The rest of the funding would come from a grant and loan from The Plunkett Foundation charity and a specialist bank.


Mark McTaggart, an advisor with the foundation, said: “It’s really heartening to see so many people in the hall. It’s one of the busiest meetings I have seen and that really bodes well for the future.


“I help communities up and down the country looking to take back control of their community and their community assets. Up and down the country, people like you are taking action and it’s my job to support you to take that action and to take community ownership of those assets and to make them work and to turn them around.”


He said the charity had helped 350 schemes. The closest were Slindon Forge and a pub in Cocking.


“There are 95 community pubs in this country and they have a 100 per cent survival rate at the moment. That is really amazing when you consider the climate pubs are operating in and that is because they offer a range of activities,” he said.


Campaign committee member David Geary said fundraising ideas to support the pub included a soon to be launched wine club. A library and clubs could also be based in the pub.


The meeting was also given some details about the financial facts behind the campaign and the branding to establish a new image for The Ship Inn.


A total of nine questions was asked by members of the public about aspects of the future pub’s operation.


The Ship Inn closed five years ago. The building has been empty since 2015 after two convenience stores failed. Tesco wants to open a One Stop Store in the premises.

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