Bird in Bush leads community services revival

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The Bird in Bush pub is leading a community services revival in Elsdon in Northumberland thanks to its enthusiastic owners, a community determined to keep its pub and support from Pub is The Hub, The Prince’s Countryside Fund and The People’s Postcode Lottery.

The pub – recently featured on BBC TV’s Christmas Countryfile show – now boasts a library service and a digital hub for locals and visitors. Installed in a purpose-built alcove in the bar the library area has an internet-enabled laptop with shelves for books.

Owners Katie Bland and Stephen Shaw have worked with Active Northumberland, part of Northumberland County Council, who are providing the books and access to their online booking system. Pub is The Hub has provided advice and support as well as a £3,000 grant from its community services fund.

The library service is part of the numerous activities and services that the couple have established since buying the closed pub in 2015: Alongside embarking on a sympathetic refurbishment for the pub, in keeping with the pubs Grade II listed status, The Bird in Bush will offer a parcel collection and drop off service for couriers delivering to the area; newspaper collection from the local shop; a ‘warm hub’ scheme on Thursday and Fridays with Community Action Northumberland to provide a home-from-home space; an exhibition space for local artists; a tourist information point and workshop sessions with local artists, crafts people and musicians.

At the rear of the pub, the First and Last Brewery provides beers for the pub as well as offering guided tours and day or weekend brewing experiences all year round and outside in pub garden, a pizza oven will be built as part of a community project to create the only takeaway food outlet in the village.

As the only pub in the Rede Valley, Katie and Stephen want to give the pub the recognition it deserves due to its fantastic looks, location and facilities.

Kate said: “We want the Bird in Bush to be a traditional ‘old school’ pub, known for its cosy interiors, excellent cask ales and the best Sunday Lunch for miles. Our approach is all about inclusivity and encouraging the community to feel that Bird in Bush is their pub. We are so grateful to Pub is The Hub, The Prince’s Countryside Fund and The People’s Postcode Lottery for inspiring us and for their constant support.

“Although the bricks and mortar have been an important focus in the last couple of year it is the services and activities that are the lifeblood of this business and its place in the community.”