SHEPTON Mallet's Alhampton Inn has been awarded the Prince of Wales Award of Honour, recognising the community's efforts in raising £125,000 and saving the pub from closure.

Alhampton Inn was presented with the award at the Bath and West Show last weekend. The award celebrates community-run organisations and initiatives and is supported by the Duchy of Cornwall.

The community clubbed together forming a Community Benefit Society after the pub, which is the social hub of the tiny village, was forced to close its doors abruptly on Halloween in 2022.

A small group, nicknamed the “Gang of Four” quickly got together, surveyed the local community and discovered resounding support to keep the pub open.

After expanding the team and with advice from the Plunkett Foundation, they established a Community Benefit Society, ran a share offer, and raised an astonishing £125,000. Over 130 shareholders came from near and far, from next door to Australia, stumping up their hard-earned cash in support of the cause. 

With just over 60 houses in the village, the pub says it is "extraordinary" that 70 people are actively involved in sustaining the future of "The Ally". The pub's future is now looking much rosier.

The group took out a fifteen-year lease, engaged an experienced General Manager, and marshalled a huge cohort of willing volunteers who hammered, sawed, scraped, sanded, scrubbed and painted. After a massive effort, the pub threw open its doors on August Bank Holiday weekend 2023, less than 10 months after the pub was closed.

A spokesman for The Alhampton Community Pub Limited said: “We’re truly grateful for this recognition from the Bath & West Society, the Duchy of Cornwall and, of course, HRH the Prince of Wales. Motivation is our fuel, and while that comes from having the pub back open, the award is a tremendous fillip for all of us involved with the Alhampton Inn”.

Jeremy Burks, an original member of the ‘Gang of Four’ and now chair of the The Alhampton Community Pub Limited, said: “The Ally is back as the beating heart of our community. It’s a lively, genuine pub, offering warmth and hospitality in a friendly and inclusive setting.”

Judges of the award highlighted the warm welcome that everyone gets at the Alhampton Inn, the enormous effort of volunteers, the professional management, and the strength of the business plan and governance.

General Manager, Simon Donnelly added “The Alhampton Inn sets out to be a place where everyone feels welcome….and it seems to be working…a place where anyone from anywhere can meet and socialise as much (or as little!) as they want to. A community pub is a new experience for me, and I’m loving it!”

He added that the busy pub gives single and more senior people in the village an important social hub, just a short walk from their front doors.

The pub stocks beer from local brewers and food from local suppliers and providers. ‘Pop-up’ food events have proved very successful; one of them, the Slow Farming Company, is so local they brought their barbecue equipment by tractor!

Jeremy Burks emphasised: “ The volunteers involved in making this a success have been inspiring; demonstrating willingness, can-do, audacity and a great gung-ho approach. No challenge is too far and no job is beneath them. The distinguished Prince of Wales Award of Honour validates their commitment. Long may the Ally continue!”