A much-loved Dorset pub, The Drovers Inn at Gussage All Saints near Wimborne has been saved with a lot of hard work and funding from its local community.
To celebrate this tremendous achievement, a fun-filled evening was held at the local village hall on 6 May when all those involved could come together.
The pub was acquired on 11 March 2016 by the Gussage Community Benefit Society Limited, which was established by the villagers to raise funds to purchase, refurbish and maintain The Drovers Inn for the benefit of the community.
“A great deal of refurbishment work has already been completed in the eight weeks since the community picked up the keys with volunteers working alongside local contractors to get the pub open for business,” said chairperson of this local campaign, Mr David Crossley. “Work to date has included replacing the old dilapidated roof tiles with Spanish slate, rebuilding and relining the chimneys, installation of wood-burning stoves to both bars and internal decoration and general maintenance.
“The garden is starting to bloom again after 18 months of neglect and the volunteers love to pause in their work to update the many walkers and cyclists who stop by to enquire about progress and when they might enjoy lunch and a pint overlooking the chalk valley after a walk or cycle along the many footpaths and bridleways meandering through the Cranborne Chase AONB.”
Treasurer, Mal Madell, added, “Since the Gussage Community Benefit Society acquired the freehold of the Drovers Inn on 11 March our supporters and volunteers have been working really hard to bring the pub back to its former glory and we decided to take a night off to celebrate everything we have achieved over the last 16 months and take the opportunity to boost the refurbishment funds at the same time. This was a landmark week for us because we signed the lease with our new tenants, Stephen and Barbara Aldred, on Tuesday.
“The Friday celebration provided a great opportunity for everyone to meet the new team in an informal setting and welcome them to the community. They joined right in and ran the bar for the evening and their chef Matt Clements produced wonderful homemade pasties for everyone.
“The celebration evening was a huge success with about 100 people enjoying live music from the 60s and 70s courtesy of local band Repeat Offenders whilst sipping beer provided for the celebration by Sixpenny Handley Brewery, Sherfield Village Brewery and Bowman Ales.”
A special highlight of the evening was an auction, which included two original watercolours painted and donated by local award-winning artists John and Cathy Collins, and two opening night tickets to the Larmer Tree Festival generously donated by the organisers.
“It was a perfect evening combining good company and lively dancing whist raising a fabulous £1660 towards the cost of refurbishing the thatch and tackling remaining refurbishment tasks,” added Mal.
The pub is scheduled to reopen at the beginning of June, if not sooner.