Flashback to the summer to celebrations following the purchase of the Blue Bell pub. Picture: Ian Burt

Four West Norfolk community groups have been given a funding boost to forge ahead with projects.

Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise has been awarded the largest local amount of £19,261 for the Blue Bell community pub/cafe project.

The money, from Norfolk County Council’s Social Infrastructure Fund, will go towards a new community meeting room and all-weather outside space.

Those behind the project said it will help to make “positive differences” to the community.

The pub, the last in the village, has been purchased by the community and is being refurbished.

The new meeting room will involve restoration of an extension to the bar-cafe building which has never been used and is “unfit for purpose”.

It needs a new roof and once replaced, the room will be available to local groups such as parents and toddlers, the village history group, art groups and  repair specialists.

The outdoor space will be for all ages with an all-weather pergola, four covered seating pods, a wood-fired pizza oven, barbecue and secure storage shed.

Stephen Ward, chairman of the Community Benefit Society, Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise Limited, which has purchased the pub, said: “The fact that we were awarded the full amount that we sought against such stiff competition is a great vote of confidence from Norfolk County Council and recognition of the value of community owned and run pubs and local services.

“The grant we have received will be used carefully to provide a new space for community services from the Blue Bell and help ensure that we can operate effectively even if there are new pandemic restrictions.”

The boost is part of £1m being given to a total of 25 different organisations countywide.

The awards include £7,800 to All Saints Church at North Runcton towards mains water, toilet and kitchenette facilities.

A total of £5,100 has been awarded to South Creake War Memorial Pavilion towards new sound system equipment and Bircham Cricket Club has been awarded £3,400 to modernise its pavilion.

County council leader Andrew Proctor said: “Our county’s voluntary and community groups are an essential part of Norfolk’s infrastructure and that has been demonstrated by the excellent work they have done and continue to do in the pandemic. 

“The funding through the Social Infrastructure Fund will support some of Norfolk’s most vulnerable people and communities and enable them to safely come together again to enjoy a range of activities in improved facilities.

“The number and quality of the applications we received this year proved that Norfolk is full of great initiatives that will really benefit our residents. 

“The £1m we have awarded will provide a real boost to the successful projects and allow them get new ideas off the ground or accelerate what they’re already doing.”

The social infrastructure fund was established to award £1m to community groups and voluntary organisations for new initiatives or improvements to existing offers or facilities. 

This year the grant was widened to make more money available for smaller projects and to projects which aim to help the county recover from the impact of the pandemic.