Red Lion, Needham, Norfolk

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The Red Lion is the only pub in the rural Norfolk village of Needham, situated 10 miles from Diss with a population of just over 300 people.

Licensees Sue and Joe Massey with their son Michael have been the hosts for the last eleven years and have built up a following of regular customers. Their community get-togethers, including music nights, barbecues, a car club and charity fund raising events, have helped to raise thousands for local good causes. The most recent one helped to purchase a defibrillator for the village, which is now mounted on the front of the pub. With plenty of adjacent land, the pub also boasts a touring site for five caravans with a children’s play area.

The Masseys have run two pubs prior to taking on the Red Lion, giving them over thirty years’ experience as publicans. This is demonstrated by the family-friendly atmosphere at the Red Lion.

Project Summary

Sue was aware of Norfolk County Council’s partnership with Pub is The Hub to help rural pubs to diversify and made contact with the organisation to discuss possible projects. Working with Pub is The Hub’s adviser in the area, Terry Stork, they decided to create a café, in a designated part of the pub, adjacent to the games area. They also realised that to make it work they would need to install a ramp at the entrance to allow easy access for their less mobile visitors. The café provides teas and freshly ground coffee, homemade cakes, and a full menu of the best local produce.


The new café is proving very popular and helping all ages to socialise with many parents, children and older customers mixing together.

In setting up this initiative, the pub has also received local and regional media interest from newspapers and local radio.

Lessons to Learn

A simple idea such as a café helps to addressing a longstanding need for somewhere to meet during the daytime in a rural community, helping to reduce social exclusion.

Sourcing food and drink from local suppliers supports the local economy – and if the café is successfully the Masseys may need to recruit more local people to work at the pub.

Project Capital

Applicant’s contribution £2,110
Pub is The Hub/Norfolk County Council’s Community Services Fund £2,110
Total Cost of the Project £4,220


Addendum: In 2022, with the support of Pub is The Hub, the pub constructed a self-service shop adjacent the car park to help local residents who have no local shop and have a five mile round trip to get local provisions.