Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall joined Kirsten and Julian Webb at The Bell Inn at Purleigh in Essex this week to view their community room and cinema.
The Royal couple arrived at lunchtime to meet staff and regulars from the 14th century village pub. They were there to see the Pub is The Hub-inspired scheme to refurbish an old function room into a valuable community space used for a variety of clubs and teams as well as an occasional cinema.
Since taking over at The Bell four years ago, Kirsten and Julian have worked hard to build on their reputation for good food and drink whilst also supporting the community. Liaising with Terry Stork, the regional advisor for Pub is The Hub, the couple were able to apply for shared funding from Essex County Council to complete the work in early 2013. One year later the room is now home to the cricket club, the darts team, a gallery for local artists and a range of hobby clubs that includes books, yoga, sewing, art and wildfowlers.
Their Royal Highnesses soon got into the swing of pub life when they got behind the bar to pull a few pints of local beer from Adnams, Woodfordes and the Mighty Oak Brewery. Later Prince Charles tried his hand at liar dice but was trounced by his wife when they tried a game of darts with Camilla scoring 47 against Charles’ 36!
After the Royal couple had left Kirsten and Julian were caught up in the media frenzy of TV and newspaper interviews with the local news keen to file their stories. Kirsten said of the day: “It has been an honour to have them both here today. His Royal Highness was particularly interested and knowledgeable about our food suppliers and was very chatty with everyone here. They were charming and lovely and I don’t know how we are ever going to top this!”
Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub, John Longden OBE added: “HRH The Prince of Wales has been a huge champion of Pub is The Hub and is always delighted to visit projects and see hard-working and inspirational licensees like Kirsten and Julian who support their communities. They fully deserve the success that they have had and have given the pub and its local residents a day to remember.”