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Cheers! Royal seal of approval for pub after community efforts

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 June 2018

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting the White Horse pub in Upton near Acle, Norfolk, which has now been recognised by the Queen.  Picture: James Bass

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting the White Horse pub in Upton near Acle, Norfolk, which has now been recognised by the Queen. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

The team behind Norfolk’s first community pub and shop business have been honoured by the Queen.

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting Norfolks first community pub, the White Horse at Upton near Acle, which has now been honoured by the Queen.  Picture: James BassHRH The Prince of Wales visiting Norfolks first community pub, the White Horse at Upton near Acle, which has now been honoured by the Queen. Picture: James Bass

The White Horse at Upton, near Acle, was acquired by the community in 2012 when it was on the brink of closure and has since been transformed into a thriving business with an annual turnover nearing £900,000.

Now, the group behind the dramatic turnaround have been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the equivalent of an MBE for voluntary groups.

The team that instigated the purchase - people from Upton, South Walsham and the surrounding areas - have continued to oversee and participate in the running of the business since its acquisition.

The dedicated volunteers operate the village shop and manage numerous aspects of the business, such as advertising, accounts and IT.

HRH The Prince of Wales visiting Norfolks first community pub, the White Horse at Upton near Acle, which has now been honoured by the Queen.  Picture: James BassHRH The Prince of Wales visiting Norfolks first community pub, the White Horse at Upton near Acle, which has now been honoured by the Queen. Picture: James Bass

Volunteers also look after the gardens, carry out general maintenance and organise fundraising coffee mornings and raffles.

Full and part time staff are also employed to work in the pub and restaurant.

Peter Crook, company secretary, said: “The pub and shop have given a whole new dimension to this rural village community and to have this recognition is a huge bonus for the large group of people who have contributed in so many ways and we are all extremely proud.

“We are a very unusual business – like any business we have to be fully professional, commercially viable and profitable.

“However, we have some 300 shareholders who have a keen interest in the success of the business and we have managed to tap into and harness this vast resource of skills and expertise and goodwill and channel it into the business in a whole range of voluntary roles.”

The unique business was first received royal recognition in 2016 when Prince Charles paid a special visit.

Further acclaim followed when the business was chosen as the EDP small business of the year and Broadland District Council’s community business of the year.

As part of their most recent award, the group have received two invitations to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, a certificate signed by the Queen and presented by the Lord Lieutenant, and an engraved crystal ornament.

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