Jake Berry MP has a ‘pizza’ the pub action

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The Community Pubs Minister, Jake Berry MP called in at the New Inn at Tholthorpe in North Yorkshire to see the how the recent addition of a shop being run in a pub has improved local services – and to try his hand at making pizzas.

Pub owners, Cameron and Dionne Reid installed a village shop and bakery in the bar of their popular village pub last year to provide the local community with much-needed access to essential everyday items without having to travel an 8-mile round trip to the nearest shop. At the same time, they have added a wood-fired pizza oven to their main restaurant to expand their menu and to offer take away options for locals.

The shop area fits neatly in at one end of the bar so that staff can serve both areas at the same time and was initiated and completed in April 2016 with support, advice and a grant of £3,500* from Pub is The Hub, the rural pub champions.

Established in 2001, Pub is The Hub inspires and encourages good licensees who run rural pubs to provide additional much-needed community services and activities; from libraries, shops and post offices to IT training and dementia friendly lunch clubs.

The Minister was so impressed with the range of goods on offer that he couldn’t resist purchasing an Italian aubergine as perhaps one of the most unusual items to be found in a Yorkshire pub shop! Then he chatted with Simon Theakston, Pub is The Hub Chairman and Executive Director at Theakston’s, before sampling a pint of the local beer with John Lewis, the owner of Treboom Brewery near York.

Afterwards it was a spot of pizza-making at the wood fired oven: From pulling the dough into a base and topping it with tomato, cheese and salami before firing it in the oven for a couple of minutes, the Minister threw himself into the task. Sharing the finished pizza with some of the locals in the bar he spent some time chatting about the issues that affect their community and rural life.

Community Pubs Minister Jake Berry said: “Pub is The Hub is a lifeline for Britain’s rural communities, helping people to access the services and activities they need while enjoying a pint in the familiar setting of their local.

“The New Inn demonstrates that even a modest grant can transform a traditional Yorkshire pub into a shop, a pizzeria and above all a hub for the whole community.”

Simon Theakston commented: “It was lovely to show the Minister how small awards from our Community Services Fund can make such a big impact on services for local communities and we are enormously grateful to the government for its continued support of Pub is The Hub and its Community Services Fund.

“He’s not bad at making pizza either!”

Since it founded the Community Services Fund in 2013 as a ‘fund of last resort’ for rural pubs looking to diversify, Pub is The Hub has awarded grants from £500 to £3,000 to over 90 pubs; creating over 150 new jobs in rural areas and supporting a rural population of over 78,000 people. For every £1 spent by the fund, a further £1.68 is leveraged through other funding and private investment.

The Government has supported Pub is The Hub and its Community Services Fund with £320,000 of funding since 2013.

The photograph above shows Simon Theakston, Cameron Reid and Jake Berry MP

*The maximum amount that Pub is The Hub is now awarding through its Community Services Fund is £3,000. This was the result of a decision taken last summer to ensure that the funds given out can benefit more schemes.