First pint pulled in community-owned village pub

There was ‘a real party atmosphere’ yesterday (Thursday) when the first pint was pulled at a village pub near Melton which is now owned by the community.

By Nick Rennie
Friday, 29th April 2022, 3:37 pm
Melton MP Alicia Kearns enjoys a drink on the reopening day at The Bell at Frisby with mine hosts Lucy and Gordon Jackson plus pub operations manager Steve Hardy
Melton MP Alicia Kearns enjoys a drink on the reopening day at The Bell at Frisby with mine hosts Lucy and Gordon Jackson plus pub operations manager Steve Hardy

A remarkable fundraising campaign by villagers at Frisby-on-the-Wreake generated hundreds of thousands of pounds inside a year and enabled them to buy The Bell.

It had been closed since December 2020 but Lucy and Gordon Jackson reopened it as mine hosts after being appointed by members of the The Bell Frisby Community Benefit Society.

Melton MP Alicia Kearns, who helped secure a £150,000 grant from the Government's Community Ownership Fund, joined locals at the launch night.

Jon Lovesay prepares down the first pint pulled at The Bell as it reopened

Thirsty customers were queuing at the door when Lucy opened up. She said: “After months of hard work it was exciting to finally get the pub open and serving.

"There was a real party atmosphere amongst a diverse and enthusiastic crowd, both old and young.”

Although there is still repair and renovation work going on to improve both outside and inside areas, the main bar has had a makeover with a fresh new look enhanced by a gallery of works by local artists on the walls.

Steve Hardy, pub operations manager, said: “It was a great day and very rewarding to get such overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who came down to celebrate with us.

Regulars enjoy a pint at the reopened The Bell

"We also have ambitious plans for the outside area and the conservatory.

“We debated delaying the opening, but once we’d completed the bar area and revamped the cellar, we just wanted to get the doors open and start trading.”

Villagers raised more than £300,000 through selling shares in the pub and a loan for £130,000 was also secured.

Tony Bird, chair of the community ownership group, said: “We have achieved so much in such a short space of time, but there is still a great deal to do.

Families enjoying The Bell on reopening day

"We have already erected scaffolding to give the exterior a facelift and the kitchens are undergoing complete renovation with a view to starting food service on Wednesday June 1.”

Melton MP Alicia Kearns commented: “I am so utterly delighted that the Frisby Community Group have achieved their dream and reopened The Bell.

"It was such a joy to see everyone together for the opening.”