We DID it!

Chair James Batchelor-Wylam and campaign starter Dr Sarah Caston

Chair James Batchelor-Wylam and campaign starter Dr Sarah Caston

We have the keys, but what’s next?

At last! The Duke of Marlborough belongs to the community!  We finally took possession of the pub on Tuesday 28th February.   If you have invested, or attended our events, the Save the Duke committee members would like to say a huge thank you for helping make the purchase possible.
The Duke will be the second cooperative pub in Suffolk, the fifth community-owned pub, and one of around only fifty across the country.

Getting the Pub Ready for Opening
Now the keys have been handed over, a team of volunteers will set to work on getting the place ready to open.  The aim is to significantly improve the external areas, redecorate the interior (including some soft furnishings), refurbish the cellar, appraise and update the kitchen and set up new business systems).
If you have skills that might be of use in any of these areas - or others that’ll help relaunch the business (eg web design, digital marketing) - please let us know even if, in the past, you’ve given us your details. Things change over two years, so we need to refresh our list.  Please contact Maggie James on maggiejames351@gmail.com or 07748 748717 to let us know what you can do.

Opening
We don’t yet have a date for regular opening, but anticipate that it will be at the end of April or in May.

The Pub ‘Offer’ and Management
We’ve always said the aim is for it to be community-owned and professionally run. Any professionals coming in to run the business will have to meet the criteria we set out. These will include specified community involvement – as well as a food and drink offer that is good enough to attract people from far and wide. The pub will not be viable if it is used only by people who live in Somersham and the small villages nearby. So it has to have an appealing and consistently good food offer.
We are aiming for seriously good operators and have started talks with pub management professionals, but it may take some time to recruit the right people.So our thoughts at the moment are to get the pub going with volunteers by opening for a few weeks (possibly months), three days a week on a ‘wet-led’ basis. That is, selling alcohol, soft drinks, tea and coffee with no food – or maybe food just on some days.
During this time, while we’re recruiting, we don’t want to attract people from a distance only to disappoint them. They are unlikely to re-visit if their experience doesn’t live up to expectations. So we’ll aim for a local community custom-base until professional operators have been found to run the show.
Experienced people in the beer and pub industries have given invaluable adviceand will help us enormously over these next crucial stages. But we will still need your support – and possibly forbearance – as we work towards our goals!

Shareholder Contact
If you would now like to become a shareholder, or for any shareholder enquiries, please get in touch with our shareholder point of contact Keith McKeown on 07817 418942 or keithmckeown8@gmail.com.

Gratitude
We’d like to thank Roger and Hazel Mason, who ran the Duke for more than 15 years. They invested significantly in the building, doing things with style and care – and passing the pub on to us as a true gem. For all of their work, for the fantastic food that many of us enjoyed while they were at the helm, and for their patience as we’ve raised the funds to buy the place, we’re sure you will join us in offering them our gratitude.