A COMMUNITY battling to save its local pub has launched an appeal to raise £230,000.

The Countryman’s Inn in Hunton, near Bedale, has struggled alongside many other pubs across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Campaigners say there have also been further problems because the landlord has suffered ill health in recent months which means he will not be able to continue running it long term. Locals have rallied round and now want to buy out the pub, which they estimate will cost £460,000 to purchase and renovate.

Resident Chris Heap said the group has contacted the government’s Community Ownership Fund to apply for match funding for whatever they can raise themselves and so now need to raise more than a quarter of a million pounds. They believe they can raise that money by selling shares in the Countryman’s Community Pub Society Limited (CCPS), with everyone who buys the set minimum value of shares becoming a member of the society.

Mr Heap said they have already raised more than £135,000 towards the target, leaving about £95,000 to find.

He added: "We are looking to the community of Hunton and the surrounding areas, and friends of the pub and village from further afield for support. Without community intervention and purchase, there is a significant risk that the pub might cease trading and subsequently close permanently. If we do not act now and purchase the pub as a community-owned entity, it may well be lost forever.

"However, this is not just about buying our local, it’s also about preserving the history and heritage of our village and investing in the future of Hunton and its people, by creating a community pub, owned by the community and run for the benefit of the community.

"The pub has been able to remain open in recent months due to the generosity, kindness and indomitable community spirit shown by our locals. Since reopening, the pub has not only remained open and trading but has flourished due to the imagination, endeavour and dedication of the management team and support from the wider community. Recent times have demonstrated that, without doubt, there is a strong desire from local residents, and many patrons from further afield, to ensure that the future of The Countryman’s Inn is secured."

Anyone who would like to help or find out more about the share application, can go to www.countrymanscommunity.org