Sheffield drinkers raise quarter of a million pounds to buy their local boozer

The Gardeners Rest Community Society have raised enough money to buy their local pub Gardeners Rest, with 382 investors pledging £237k in just 49 days.

They have reached their upper funding target and are preparing a bid to put forward to the current landlords, with a view to changing hands at the end of January.

Current landlady Pat Wilson is “delighted” that the community have come together to buy the pub. She said: “The area’s changing and there’s a lot going on in Neepsend with regard to regeneration. It seems the perfect time to move on and for someone else to take over the pub.”

Landlady Pat Wilson and Landlord Eddy Munnelly
Landlady Pat Wilson and Landlord Eddy Munnelly

Pat, 55, and partner and landlord Eddy Munnelly have a history of working in pubs and bought the Gardeners Rest 18 years ago.

They decided to sell the pub in the summer of this year and, before going to an estate agent, approached regulars who had previously expressed an interest in the pub.

One local, Mark Powell, 67, helps set up businesses and social enterprises. He began the appeal for other investors and set up a crowd funding page.

Shareholders were able to pledge anything from £100 to £20,000 and by 28th November had received more than double of their £100k target.

Pat, who now plans on buying a narrow boat to live and travel around in, said: “They’ve got various plans to develop it, like putting in a kitchen and doing food, which are things we would start to look at if we were staying.

“The pub needs to move on a bit and this is the best way of doing it – with fresh eyes.”

Pub regular 'Stella' unfortunately won't be staying with the new owners
Pub regular ‘Stella’ unfortunately won’t be staying with the new owners

Community pubs are becoming more common across the country, with many villages coming together to preserve their community spaces and businesses.

Pat said: “The interesting things they want to do are emphasising that it’s a community pub. That is what we try to do. We have a few artists doing exhibitions, musicians performing, all sorts of things like that.

“It’s fantastic really, the spirit of community feels like a really positive thing, especially these days.”