Kent Messenger article By Eleanor Perkins 20th April 2018

The people of Ash are now the proud owners of The Chequer Inn following a two-year enterprise to raise £400,000.

Residents, desperate to stop their village pub from being turned into housing, raised the cash through shareholders, investors, a grant and a loan.

With the assistance of solicitors, the sale has now been completed and residents received the keys last week.

Matthew Titterton, who originally began the campaign in December 2015, said: “We are all very excited and can’t believe that this day has finally arrived. It’s fantastic to know that this wonderful historic pub which has been the heart of the community for hundreds of years will now re-open. This time there will be no national pub company owning it, but instead a community passionate for it to succeed. We have more than 300 shareholders who are determined to make a success of it, and with the right tenant, we really hope that it will be a community pub to be proud of.”

Applications for shares came from around the world including Alaska, Australia, North Carolina, Scotland and Yorkshire.

Work now begins on refurbishment of the property and a search for a suitable tenant.

Jane Greaves, secretary of The Chequer Inn Ash Society, said: “It’s all very exciting. “The committee has a number of working parties to get the pub up and running. We are hoping to have an open day for shareholders in a few weeks, but as it is currently a building site. We have a health and safety team on board so that we can do things properly. We have a very ambitious project plan and we hope to be open by the autumn.”

Working parties have since been established to help with the next stage of the Save the Chequer Inn project. They are looking for volunteers who can clear rubbish, clear the garden, make refreshments and do decorating and general D.I.Y.

Ms Greaves added: “There will be additional tasks which will need to be undertaken by skilled tradespeople – so if you are a plasterer, tiler, electrician, carpenter, interior designer and could spare us a few hours of your time and expertise at reduced or ideally zero cost that would be very much appreciated.”

The project received a £50,000 grant and a £50,000 loan from the Plunkett Foundation. Executive director James Alcock said: “We’re so pleased to be able to support The Chequer Inn who are working hard to make sure their community can benefit from everything that having a thriving local pub brings. Pubs that are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to buy a drink; they provide important social spaces and services for local people, and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity.”

It comes as new homes are planned around the village as identified by Dover District Council’s Local Development Framework.