Family 'overwhelmed' as customers raise £2,500 for popular pub
- Credit: Neil Smith MBE
The family behind a popular east Suffolk pub said they are "overwhelmed" by community support after locals raised almost £2,500 to aid its reopening.
Neil Smith MBE, who runs the Shannon pub in Bucklesham with sons Dan and Matt, launched the online fundraising appeal last week in a bid to help revitalise its beer garden for April 12, when pubs are scheduled to reopen again for outdoor custom.
The trio had initially been opposed to starting an appeal, however had their opinions changed when a customer told them about how much the pub means to the village.
Having only set an initial target of £650, locals have come together to raise a staggering £2,470.
Mr Smith, a former police dog handler, said: "As you can imagine, having only offered takeaway for eight of the last 12 months, with more outgoings than income, we were wondering how we would be able to reopen.
"We just wanted a way to help make sure the pub looks nice, to get some new flowers and a marquee to give our customers a nice and comfortable environment to return to."
Mr Smith added the pub's landlady has also offered support to help redecorate the outside seating area, while local business Escaping Gravity has donated £500.
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"It has been absolutely incredible," Mr Smith said. "We are just so overwhelmed.
"More and more people just kept donating and we raised more than £1,000 in 24 hours.
"Like it has been for a lot of people, it has been really difficult. We always said we would get through the first lockdown and were fairly confident for the second, but for this third lockdown we didn't think we would get through it.
"It has been an emotional year – my sons have worked so hard and to think we could have lost it all in our third year was really tough. That is what makes everyone's support mean so much to us.
"We are really looking forward to giving people a proper welcome again – to have a chance to sit down, have a chat and enjoy each other's company."
Pubs should be able to reopen outdoors as part of step two of the government's lockdown roadmap, with indoor service scheduled to return from May 17 – both subject to change dependant on circumstances at the time.