New landlords at pub bought by villagers

New landlords of the Duke of Wellington, Leasingham. Phil Roe and Sylvia Hodgkiss. EMN-180312-100106001
New landlords of the Duke of Wellington, Leasingham. Phil Roe and Sylvia Hodgkiss. EMN-180312-100106001

Villagers who raised over £210,000 to buy their local pub to save it from turning into housing have welcomed their newly installed landlords, less than 12 months after it went on the market.

Couple Phil Roe and Sylvia Hodgkiss were unveiled to the Leasingham community over an informal mince pies and mulled wine at the Duke of Wellington on Sunday.

They were appointed by the Leasingham Community Benefit Society, who coordinated the fundraising effort and purchase by selling shares to supporters around the world.

The couple have previously managed The Woolpack Hotel at Wainfleet for the past few months.

Phil said: “A guy who drank in our last pub spoke to us about this place and suggested we ought to go and have a look.

“We were in awe at how much they have achieved.”

Phil has been in the trade for over 20 years and met Sylvia about three years ago when she gave up working in the NHS to serve behind the bar.

While having their own ideas, they pledge to incorporate these into the community’s vision for the pub as a hub.

A key to that is traditional, good quality pub grub, coming out of the newly installed kitchen facilities, as well as keeping on some of the speciality mobile food caterers that have been visiting.

Phil plans to install a proper coffee machine and have local cakes and snacks to suit the daytime trade. There will be entertainment, quiz nights and the two pool teams continue to thrive.

A complete new central heating system has been installed and a full face-lift and decoration performed throughout by villagers and local professionals.

Karen Warner from the committee said: “There is a lot of excitement about the new landlords.”

They also plan to launch a Men In The Shed project in 2019, part of a national initiative designed to support older men who may struggle with loneliness or health problems, but who have dying trades such as carpentry and upholstery.

Karen said they will renovate and recycle items brought to them, with help from volunteers who helped refit the pub.