Tafarn yr Heliwr, Nefyn

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Tafarn yr Heliwr in Nefyn, Gwynedd, is more than a pub. It is the hub of a small rural town that supports and provides developmental opportunities for local people – from helping to improve health and wellbeing, to tackling loneliness and teaching new skills.

The Sportsman, (Yr Heliwr) as it was previously called, has a long history as a pub and hotel dating from the mid-19th century.

The pub was an integral part of community life in the conservation area of Nefyn for many generations, until finally it sadly closed its doors in 2009 along with several other local shops and businesses in the town. In 2018, locals decided there was a real need to get the pub reopened. The building was successfully purchased by the community in November 2018.

The pub finally re-opened to the public in July 2021 after a refurbishment project. Four en suite bedrooms opened to guests in Easter 2023, following an extensive renovation funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Community garden

As part of its approach to support people living locally, the pub developed a plot of land nearby into a community garden. Gardd Yr Heliwr Community Garden was established by volunteers, organised by the pub, who gave around 1,000 hours of their time towards the design and initial development of the project.

Many Nefyn residents live in traditional, small, terraced homes with little or no garden space. The community garden provides people with access to space to grow their own produce, saving them money and helping to provide a focus which is beneficial to improving their health and wellbeing. The garden also plans to provides organic fruit and vegetables for the pub’s kitchen.

The community garden has proved popular, with a team of around ten volunteers now working to maintain the garden. A committee has been set up to manage the project, with regular meetings held in the pub. Produce and plants are sold on a ‘pay what you can’ basis to the local community, helping the garden to become financially sustainable.

The pub provides all the tools, and the use of a shed and polytunnel for free. Families can use children’s tools and there is a ‘bug hotel’ for youngsters, providing a fun activity.

Social and volunteering opportunities

The garden provides lots of social opportunities for volunteers. The annual ‘garden party’ event involves the local St David’s church and the National Trust, with dozens of people attending.

In order to bring people together and provide an all-weather space for volunteers, groups and families, the community benefit society approached Pub is The Hub to help with the opening of a gazebo to use as an outdoor classroom and events space. Funding has also helped to landscape the garden and create tall, raised beds to support volunteers with mobility issues.

By creating a new formal seating area inside the gazebo, with benches and chairs, the garden committee plan to enable more activities, such as apple pressing, volunteer training, and coffee and cake mornings.

The new building will also mean that there is space to hold more events and meetings within the garden, supporting groups to socialise together in a peaceful space which can help to tackle rural isolation, and improve wellbeing.

There are also plans to create a pond area to attract newts, frogs, and toads back to the site. It is also hoped that the addition of wetland wildflower and grasses will complement this habitat and provide cover for slow worms and other reptiles.

Chair of Yr Heliwr Rhodri Evans said: “This wonderful outdoor classroom is encouraging local people to spend more time together and volunteer in the garden, connecting them to a healthy activity that will provide them with affordable, nutritious food.”

Pub is The hub Wales advisor Malcolm Harrison said: “This vibrant community garden and events space is already having a positive impact in helping to bring people together, with new friendship and connections being formed to help combat loneliness and isolation. This event space will have a real social benefit for people living locally and those in the wider community.”