Community-run pub defies critics

The award-winning Yarcombe Inn celebrates third year in business.

A pub ‘for the community run by the community’ – three years on the Yarcombe Inn is still going strong.

This month the award-winning inn and its dedicated team of volunteers celebrate the milestone.

It had been closed for more than a year before reopening on October 29, 2009.

“The village missed having a heart and having a centre,” says Mary Hyland, who was involved in the project from the start.

The village was approached by television producers to participate in a new programme Save Our Boozer and was given start-up money to get the pub operating.

Residents soon banded together and set to work, cleaning and painting the historic Grade II listed building which dates back thousands of years.

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It is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The inn has defied critics, who said the pub would not last because the village was thought to be too small to sustain the business.

Honiton Rural Dean, the Reverend Alastair McCollum, one of the licensees, can also be seen pulling pints behind the bar.

He said: “This is a really crucial thing for the village, that they have got a place for people to come, apart from church.”

Although, he admits, it has taken a lot of hard work from volunteers.

Even his mother, Martha, can be found behind the bar and has taken over his quiz night duties.

The inn is a non-profit making organisation and all the money made is ploughed back into the business.

Ken Jones, who is a licensee and dedicated volunteer, added: “The whole atmosphere changed in the village. People didn’t use to see their neighbours. Now the pub is back open, the community is more cohesive.

“It has brought the village closer together.”

The inn recently welcomed chef Danual Botterill, who runs Drakes Restaurant, and the volunteers hope this new addition will increase footfall through the door. Tracey Humphreys, the chairman of the inn, says the local community and businesses in the village have been really supportive.

She said: “Everybody supports each other. The inn has evolved and that is the key. It serves the community and it is our pub, but is also here for everyone to use.”

“It is a pub for the community, run by the community” adds Martha.

There will be a big party on Saturday, October 27, to celebrate the inn’s third year in business - all are welcome.

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