The White Lion pub in Broadwindsor, Dorset, had been under threat of shutting down after its landlord said last year that they would not be reopening after lockdown.
It would have become the fifth and final pub in the village to close after The Cross Keys, The Oak, The Butchers Arms and The George Inn all ceased trading and were redeveloped for residential use.But determined villagers set out to rescue the 17th century pub, situated in the centre of the ancient parish, after its owners approached the parish council to see if there was interest in running the pub as a community enterprise.
After a majority of villagers said they wanted to save the local, residents were able to raise £32,000 in just two weeks.
And following two months of refurbishment works, The White Lion reopened as a community pub on Friday with around 100 locals showing their support.
Overall, the group has raised nearly £60,000, around £45,000 of which has come through community donations, and the rest via contributions from several parish council grants and Power to Change and Pub is the Hub campaigns.The money has been used to renovate the bar area and provide working capital.
It will also be used to provide essential kitchen equipment so the pub can serve food again in the near future.
David Leader, who spearheaded the campaign, sadly died last month prior to the pub’s opening aged 64.
Rick Dyke, chairman of the White Lion Management Committee, paid tribute to his ‘amazing character’ and said the pub will have tributes to David in the future.
He added : ‘Without David’s energy, enthusiasm and diplomacy, we would not be reopening the pub. We hope that The White Lion will become the community hub that David envisaged.
‘We are incredibly excited to be opening but it is bittersweet with the loss of David. He was an amazing character who put his time and energy into so many different things in the community.
‘We are hoping to have some small tributes to David in the pub in the future.
‘I’d also like to thank the many volunteers who have so freely given their time to help with the refurbishment, some of whom have been almost living in the pub in recent months.