Family excited to run borough’s first community-owned village pub

The family who will run the Melton borough’s first community-owned pub have outlined a vision to make it a traditional village local where other families feel welcome to drink and eat.

By Nick Rennie
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:18 pm
Gordon and Lucy Jackson, who will be running the newly community-owned Bell Inn pub at Frisby, with their children, Lily (11), Ivy (10) and four-year-old Rose EMN-220413-103002001
Gordon and Lucy Jackson, who will be running the newly community-owned Bell Inn pub at Frisby, with their children, Lily (11), Ivy (10) and four-year-old Rose EMN-220413-103002001

Lucy and Gordon Jackson and their children, Lily (11), Ivy (10) and four-year-old Rose, will live at The Bell Inn, at Frisby, when the first pint is pulled, hopefully, at midday on Thursday April 28.

Melton people may know the Jacksons from their time as mine hosts at the town’s Black Swan pub 13 years ago and they both have extensive experience of working in the trade.

This was an important consideration for members of The Bell Inn Frisby Community Group after they concluded a remarkable fundraising effort by generating more than £300,000 through selling shares.

A loan of £130,000 and a welcome extra grant of £150,000 from the government’s Community Ownership Fund means the venture is now very close to being launched.

A major programme of refurbishment is taking place inside the pub building, which dates back to the mid-19th century and which has been closed since December 2020.

Lucy will run the bar, whilst Gordon will look after the food side, with an aim to serve traditional pub food.

“Gordon and I are absolutely thrilled to be taking on The Bell and we see it as a great honour to have been appointed,” Lucy told the Melton Times.

“We are still busy getting everything ready to open the doors and start trading.

“And with all the amazing fundraising, we have a long list of further improvements we can implement.

“The scope of these changes includes completely remodelling the outside spaces and opening the conservatory room as a café.

“Having said that, our main priority has been to get the doors open as soon as possible and start serving.”

The Jacksons were keen to stay in the Melton area and doing so will enable Lucy to continue as head coach for the Asfordby Amateurs Ladies Football Club, where she was a player and founder member.

“We will be living in the pub and because we are a family we hope to get more families from Frisby and the surrounding villages coming in,” she added.

Gordon said: “We will be a freehouse and we want to support local breweries and food producers so our food will use local ingredients.”

Steve Hardy, operations director for the community group, said: “This has been an immensely challenging but exciting journey, with the final pieces of the plan only coming together in the past few weeks.”

He said the group was delighted to have the Jacksons on board, adding: “We wanted experienced professionals, not willing volunteers.

“The pub has to run as a commercial business, so needed a professional management team who understand our vision to run The Bell as a traditional village pub with traditional values.”

Community group chair, Tony Bird, said it was fitting they bought the pub exactly a year to the day from when they launched the project to save the pub back in March 2021.

He added: “We are absolutely overwhelmed with the huge amount of support we have received.”