Ennerdale Hub Update on the Future of
The Gather and Handover of The Fox & Hounds Pub
A community meeting was held on Tuesday 10 April 2018 at The Gather in Ennerdale Bridge, in order to update the village with regards to the Ennerdale Hub’s decision, in November, to hand the lease of the Fox & Hounds pub back to its owner and the impact of this on The Gather.
Prior to the Ennerdale Hub’s formation, like many small communities, the village had been losing services. Their objective was to reinstate community enterprises at the heart of the village. Through shareholder investment from over 200 local people, who formed the Ennerdale Hub, enough money was raised for the village to take on the lease of the pub.
Bob Dean and Dom Maguire represented the board of the Ennerdale Hub and led the meeting. Over 100 attendees at the meeting heard how the Ennerdale Hub oversaw the opening of the Fox & Hounds, West Cumbria’s first community-run pub, 7 years ago. With funding from BIG Lottery, the Lake District National Park, the Copeland Community Fund and Wild Ennerdale, the Ennerdale Hub also opened The Gather in April 2016, which is now a thriving cafe, shop and community centre.
After 7 years, it has become apparent that the Hub has been unable to run the pub profitably and, at the end of February 2018, the lease was handed back to its owner. After refurbishment it reopened on 23 March 2018, much to the delight of the village. The Hub achieved its objective to breathe new life into the pub and the board wished the owner every success with the venture.
Bob explained that in the 7 years that the pub had been open, debts were accrued that would be honoured when the business traded at a profit. At the time of handing the pub back, the Ennerdale Hub owed its understanding creditors £33,000. Whilst The Gather is running as a profitable and sustainable business, the Fox & Hounds’ debts cannot be separated from The Gather and it is currently not in a position to repay all of these debts. The meeting heard that unless this money could be raised by the end of May, The Gather may be forced to close.
The Gather is unique. A purpose built building, visited by Prince Charles in April 2017, it is mostly run by volunteer support from the local community, whether they are helping in the cafe, behind the scenes with financial matters or washing the staff aprons every day. The incredibly popular soups are made at home to age-old family recipes, and the home-baked cakes are supplied by tireless volunteers, who fill the cake stands with their delights. The cafe provides jobs for local people, including invaluable work experience for young people. In total, over 50 people give their time freely to sustain The Gather as a profitable enterprise.
The Gather shop offers a vital service to the village, in particular those who are unable to drive to the nearby towns. It stocks meat from a local butcher, collected on a weekly basis by a volunteer, as well as essentials such as fresh local eggs, bread, milk and medical supplies. Local arts and crafts are sold alongside these necessities, supporting local artists.
The large community room hosts a range of activities, from yoga to karate, needle felting to photography, as well as a monthly film night, reading group and gardening club. Without this space, these incredible opportunities would simply not exist in the village.
The Gather is loved by everyone who visits it, from locals who pop by for a coffee and a chat, to tourists looking for a bite to eat after a day out walking. The people of Ennerdale Bridge are fighting to keep it open. New shareholders from the wider community are most welcome, and we are looking for more ideas for fundraising opportunities.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a shareholder or would like to discuss fundraising ideas, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the team in the cafe.