Villagers in Swaledale trying to buy their local pub have launched a share pledge scheme as part of fundraising efforts.

The Muker Community Benefit Society wants to buy The Farmers Arms, which has been up for sale for more than two years.

It intends to raise money for the purchase through a share offer and apply for match funding from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund, a £150m scheme which helps communities take ownership of assets at risk of closure.

The current owner is said to be prepared to sell to the community group.

At a public meeting last Tuesday, March 5, the society launched a request for share pledges, a vital step in bringing the pub into community ownership.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chairman of the society, said: “To receive a grant from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund, the society needs to demonstrate that it’s able to raise the funds required to buy the pub. Share pledges provide the best evidence that this is the case.

"Individuals and organisations can pledge to buy community shares from £250 up to a maximum of £32,000 and the more money pledged, the greater our confidence that the Farmers Arms can be taken into community ownership."

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Farmers Arms in Muker, Swaledale

The group stresses that a share pledge is not a commitment to buy shares and no immediate payment is required, but at the same time it is important that the share pledges received provide an accurate reflection of what funding will be raised.

For anyone interested in buying a community share in the Farmers Arms, more information, including the share pledge form, can be found on the Muker Community Benefit Society website at Share pledges need to be made by March 26.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Rishi Sunak with members of the Muker Community Pub group outside the Farmers Arms

The project was recently boosted by a visit from Richmond MP and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who attended a gathering in the village to hear more about the plans for the pub.