The community celebrates the purchase of the Blue Bell pub. Pictures Ian Burt.

Glasses were raised as residents and campaigners celebrated becoming the new owners of a village’s last remaining pub.

The Blue Bell at Stoke Ferry now belongs to the community after 17 months of fundraising and negotiations.

And on Saturday, around 40 people celebrated at the Lynn Road pub as work has already started to transform the empty premises into a community asset.

Stephen Ward, chairman of the community group and Sue Lintern, parish council chairman, gave short speeches and a message of congratulations was also read out from West Norfolk councillor Colin Sampson. 

The purchase was completed last Wednesday after the idea for a community-owned pub was initiated last January and the Save the Blue Bell campaign formed.

Renovation work has begun and Mr Ward said they had received many volunteers and offers of materials.

Toasting to success are Steve and Debbi Leggett, Alan Lury and Mike Bellamy.

The aim is for a “basic outdoor service” to be running by late August/September and the pub to be fully open in time for Christmas, Mr Ward said, adding the search is on for a manager and a chef. 

The initial £280,000 to buy and refit the pub was raised through investments with shareholders, grants from the Plunket Foundation and Stoke Ferry Parish Council, a loan from More Than A Pub and fundraising events.

Sue Lintern, chairman of the parish council, offered congratulations to the campaigners on behalf of the parish council.

“Well done to the Blue Bell campaign team and to all residents of Stoke Ferry on the successful completion of the purchase of the Blue Bell Inn. 

“Your hard work, determination and diligence has finally paid off.”