Village Turns To Crowdfunding To Save The Duke

AUGUST 18, 2015

We hear of pubs closing every week, but a community in Somersham, near Ipswich, don’t want to see their local, the Duke of Marlborough, added to the casualty list…...

“The Duke is a beautiful, historic pub; a central feature of village life,” said local doctor Sarah Caston. “We want it to stay that way. Quite simply, we refuse to accept that 500 years of local hospitality should come to an end.”

A public meeting held at the beginning of the year established that there was an appetite for the fight. Since that meeting, people from across the community have worked tirelessly in setting up a community benefit society, establishing asset of community value (ACV) status, researching, making applications and fundraising.

Sarah, who has been leading the Save the Duke campaign, said: “The Duke of Marlborough is in many ways a national, as well as local, treasure. It symbolises all pubs that have been the life-blood of communities for centuries but are now under threat of being turned into residential properties. When we raise our voices about the Duke, we’re raising them for all rural pubs at risk.”

The Save the Duke campaign is aiming to raise the funds to buy the pub through a crowdfunding share issue. To succeed, 7,000 shares of £50 each need to be sold. The prospectus is almost ready and the opportunity to invest will open via and on Crowdfunder before September 1.

Sarah said: “We’re convinced we can do it. There’s a compelling case for the business. All our research shows there will be extensive support for the newly re-opened pub. People really want a vibrant social hub serving fresh food and quality drinks from the region. By offering an enticing menu, creating a great atmosphere and putting on the right events, custom will be attracted from far and wide.

“Our business plan has been scrutinised by experts across the industry, and there’s real confidence in our proposals and ability to deliver.”

Most of the money is expected to come from people in Suffolk, but there’s been interest from further afield too. All investors wishing to become part-owners of the enterprise are welcome, wherever they’re from. Anyone wanting a prospectus should

n the meantime, Save the Duke campaigners have asked everyone who cares about pubs and communities to follow @helpsavetheduke on Twitter, and to ‘like’ the Save the Duke of Marlborough page on Facebook.

Sarah added: “A new age is emerging, one in which people are grouping together to make a difference. With lots social media activity from well-wishers and financial support from those able to offer it, we can do it. Every single contribution matters.

“We’d like to thank in advance every individual who takes the time to vocalise their support or to buy a few shares. They will be helping to make sure this beautiful pub is not lost to future generations.”