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Comunity centre gets a new name

PUBLISHED: 15:04 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 30 June 2010

A FORMER community centre that originally sprang up as a pre-fab post-war hangout is has undergone a new year's transition- and all in the spirit of inclusivity.

A FORMER community centre that originally sprang up as a pre-fab post-war hangout is has undergone a new year's transition- and all in the spirit of inclusivity.

Shrublands community centre, now named Pub on The Shrub, had functioned as a members-only spot since the 50s but thanks to landlords Graeme and Wendy Kerr, it is now open for anyone to pop in and enjoy, regardless of fees.

The transition, which quietly became reality on New Year's Day, has been the culmination of work by the pair since they took over in March 2008.

Graeme Kerr has been in the pub business for 15 years with his wife, and was landlord at The Salisbury Arms in Cobholm as well as the now-closed The Talbot. He has a slogan to sum up their attitude: 'No membership, same standards.'

He said: “Although it's not a community centre any more it's for the community, and it's about making it a nicer place for people to come to, and now we've changed it anyone can come in.”

After taking over, the pair invested in refurbishing the furniture and fittings, as well as adding social programmes to the calendar.

Keen to spread the appeal as much as possible, they have everything from arts classes to line dancing, and now it's a pub they have hired extra staff and hope to soon be serving up Sunday roasts.

Though the changes were initially resisted by some locals, the extent to which they have now been embraced was reflected in the kind words Graeme received during the time he was being treated for an abscess of the brain last year.

“When I was in hospital I got so many cards from the locals here I couldn't believe it - they have all been so supportive. People still come up and ask how I am and it means a lot.”

Wendy also hopes the change will bring in new faces, but realises it has some risk attached - last year 800 people paid for their £8 yearly membership fee.

“Time will tell how it goes and it's too early to say yet. Within five years it would be nice to be able to step back a bit but we shall have to see how it goes.

“I'm excited by the change though and I can't wait to see if it makes a difference- we're getting new faces already.”

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