A COMMUNITY group that has been battling for more than a decade to buy a village pub is celebrating a sale agreement finally being reached.

The Skeeby Community Pub Society has fought a lengthy battle to retain the Travellers Rest in Skeeby for the community after it was closed in 2008 and plans were put forward to convert it into housing in 2010.

Since then, the Society has fought off further planning applications and appeals in its determined bid to buy and renovate the pub and keep it as a community-run asset.

Their fight won the backing of local MP Rishi Sunak and Richmondshire District Council which has pledged £50,000 to the scheme.

This week the Society's chairwoman Carol Wilkinson announced at a public meeting that an agreement has been reached to buy The Travellers Rest and the group is now forging ahead with a share scheme to fund its renovation and reopening.

She said: "When I took over as chair on March 7 I never imagined I would address my first public meeting with the amazing news that we have finally managed to negotiate a deal to buy The Travellers Rest.

"The many hundreds, or even thousands, of man hours that have been put in to saving our wonderful old pub have been worth every second, and we are especially grateful to those who kept the dream alive over the past 12-years.

"The support we have received throughout our campaign has been truly amazing, and thanks especially for the advice and guidance from Richmondshire District Council, The Plunkett Foundation and the hundreds of steadfast supporters.

"We hope that we can once more enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company at The Travellers Rest - a community pub.”

Society spokeswoman Kay Richardson said it was 'amazing' that the long campaign has resulted in the pub's purchase and the hope was to have it open for business next year.

She said: "It has been such a long time and we are just so happy to be in a position where we have got the sale agreement and we can move forward with it."

Ms Richardson thanked the local community for its 'incredible' support, adding: "We are just a group of ten people doing this for our community so it is so nice to have their support."

A spokesman for Richmondshire District Council said: “Richmondshire District Council has recognised for many years the important role that community pubs play throughout the district and this has become even more important in bringing communities together as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.

"This community role is why the Traveller’s Rest was originally listed as an Asset of Community Value.

"The council has been highly impressed with the public engagement that has been undertaken by the Skeeby Pub Group and the fundraising efforts that have taken place to put them into a position to negotiate the purchase of the property.

"The Council’s Communities Investment Fund was put in place to allow groups such as the Skeeby pub Group to deliver their community-based projects and the council was very happy to be able to approve the application for funding which will help the project come to fruition as well as a number of other community-based projects across the district.”

The group has agreed to buy the pub for £175,000 and in order to fully realise the dream of transforming it into a thriving local, it needs to raise around £325,000 to have captial in the bank over and above the purchase and renovation costs.

A share scheme has been launched which has raised more than £50,000 in its first three days and anybody interested in buying a share can find all the details at thetravellersrestskeeby.co.uk/buy-shares