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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 05:59 GMT
Pint and prayer at the local pub
The prince adds hops to a vat
The prince got involved in the brewing process
A pint, a sandwich and a cut and blow dry should all be on offer to help the local pub survive, according to a new guide.

How To Save Your Local Pub, launched by the Prince of Wales on Wednesday, gives examples of how to keep this focus of village life going.

The guide is part of an initiative called The Pub Is The Hub.

It contains advice on ways to ensure pubs stay open, such as hosting keep fit classes or even church services.

On Wednesday, Prince Charles visited the Cumbrian village of Hesket Newmarket, where a co-operative of the local community own the pub, the Old Crown.

Church services
Local club meeting point
Pharmacy collection point
Dry cleaning point
Cash machine
Art and crafts gallery
Outlet for local goods

The prince said he was impressed by the efforts shown by local people.

"I cannot tell you the pleasure I have in visiting communities such as yours, which are living proof that the countryside and those who live and work in it are determined not just to survive, but to flourish," he said.

He added that he hoped the example set would be followed by villages across the UK.

The new guide blames employment patterns, the explosion in house prices and a lack of awareness in the wider role a pub can play for the decline in the local.

It offers advice on ways to keep a pub commercially viable, such as suggestions for new business opportunities, local support and ways to proceed with planning committees and appeals.

Prince Charles raises a pint
Preserving rural village life is a theme close to the prince's heart
It encourages communities to organise themselves and, if necessary, buy their own local pub when threatened with closure, said Mike Benner, from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which supports the guide.

"Running a pub is never easy, but communities can draw on their collective talents and experience to turn a dying pub into a successful thriving business which is community-driven," he said.

Labelling itself an elementary tool kit, the guide gives advice on preparing for public meetings and raising funds.

Central to the whole idea, the guide says, is providing extra activities and services within the pub. Church services, parish meetings and keep fit classes can all entice customers in, as can providing services such as an online delivery point, a cash machine and even a hairdresser.

Prince Charles
Established in 2002
Each member of the co-op donated 1,500
New tenants Lou and Linda Hogg
Turnover increased by 50%
Pub doubles as village library
Villagers chip in with soups, pies and curries

The pub the prince visited in Cumbria on Wednesday was held up by the guide as a good example of how to preserve the local inn.

In 1998, the future of The Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket was in doubt. Villagers feared that the community, which had once supported five pubs, would not have even one local. They decided to band together.

The village raised enough support to set up co-operatives for the pub and the brewery attached to it. Now turnover at the pub has increased by 50% and it hosts the local dart teams and pool league. Villagers chip in by supplying pies, cakes and curries.

Audrey Heslop, a shareholder in both co-ops, makes soup for the Old Crown. She said: "We won't get wealthy running the pub and the brewery.

"It's all about lifestyle. It's a Cumbrian pub serving Cumbrian beer and food."

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18 Nov 02  |  Politics
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17 Dec 01  |  England

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