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Villagers fighting to keep pub and community centre

Ennerdale Bridge Community Centre Photo: ITV Border

Villagers in Ennerdale Bridge are trying to raise £80,000 to keep their pub and community centre open.

Residents raised £730,000 so they could take over the pub in 2011 after it closed, and they recently opened The Gather cafe as a community hub.

We've learned an awful lot about how to run the business but I think are more excited about the potential for this building and we have loads of people who just come up and have a coffee and they're on their own and you wonder, 'what would they be doing today if we weren't here?' They'd be on their own and that's a big, big thing.

– Angie Dean, Manager, The Gather

The Gather has a well-used cafe with cakes baked by the villagers, a village shop, which many say is a life-line after the original closed down, sending them on a seven-mile trip if they ran out of milk or sugar and a community room for use by the youth club and for holding community events. There's also space for a gym, which young people in particular say they want.

But once the building opened six months ago, organisers realised they also needed money to get the business going.

How do you physically buy in the things you need to run a village shop when you've not got the money to do it? And how do you pay the wages? And was it naive? By golly yes it was but if you look at us as a village we've got a limited range of skills and we've applied as much as we can. We've reopened our village pub which still functions after five and a half years; we've got this brand new facility, so I think we can be forgiven for being a bit naive on some issues but you know that's the way of the world. We think people will be inspired by the story that we're trying to tell and we think there will be people out there who want to help us

– Peter Maher, The Gather

Many villagers have shares in the business and have helped get the hub going both financially and by donating their time. Organisers say they have now asked the village for money too many times and need to appeal to others to help.

They're trying to raise £80,000 (£20,000 from public donations) to stock the gym, and put projection equipment in the meeting room for holding events and a youth club.

I've worked at Ennerdale School for 43 years as the teacher and then as the Head Teacher and I didn't want to lose touch with the community so it's a great way for me to stay in touch with the community. The school doesn't have a hall so a breakfast cub or an after school club could take place in the facilities upstairs. There's a possibility that the numbers [in the school] could drop and then the school would be in danger. Some parents find it difficult to get to work and bring their children to school.

– Viv Young, Volunteer, The Gather

The community in Ennerdale Bridge dreamed big and got their wish but the reality turned out to be more expensive and now they hope with one last push, their cakes will fund their vital community hub for many more years.