Gardeners Rest regulars launch £100,000 appeal to buy their pub

Mark Powell is leading a crowdfunding campaign to buy the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend, Sheffield.
Mark Powell is leading a crowdfunding campaign to buy the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend, Sheffield.
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Sheffield pub regulars are trying to raise at least £100,000 to buy their local.

Eddy Munnelly and Pat Wilson, landlord and landlady of the Gardeners Rest in Neepsend, plan to pull their last pints in the near future.

They commercial interest from several parties.

But regulars are worried the building, in the middle of regeneration hub Kelham Island, will be converted into flats.

They have set up a community share appeal and hope to raise enough to buy the pub and keep it open as a social enterprise.

Mark Powell is one of those leading the appeal, and was one of the first through the door when the current proprietors arrived 18 years ago.

Mark Powell, who is leading a crowdfunding campaign to buy the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend, Sheffield, in conversation with the most popular regular 'Stella'.

Mark Powell, who is leading a crowdfunding campaign to buy the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend, Sheffield, in conversation with the most popular regular 'Stella'.

Mark, 67, from Lodge Moor, runs Yes2Ventures, which develops social firms - enterprises that create employment opportunities for disadvantaged people.

He said: “I’m a regular at the Gardeners Rest, and a lot of us who are regulars would like the pub to stay as a pub.

“It’s clear that in an area of regeneration the bid may come from a property developer to bulldoze it and build more flats.”

The pub is renowned for its individual atmosphere, riverside location and real ales.

Landlady and lord of the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend Pat Wilson and Eddy Munnelly.

Landlady and lord of the Gardeners Rest pub in Neepsend Pat Wilson and Eddy Munnelly.

It is also used as a meeting place for community groups, including Kiac – the Kelham Island Arts Collective.

Mr Powell said an asset of community value application, which gives the community six months to bid for a protected building, had been considered.

But regulars did not want to take away from Eddy and Pat’s retirement pot by prolonging a sale.

The aim is to raise at least £100,000 by November 28. People can contribute as little as £100 or as much as £20,000 – but everyone who pays in gets the same voting rights in the new Gardeners Rest Community Society.

The group expects to make an offer of about £280,000 - and they hope half will come from community shares, with the rest from Government and Lottery grants.

“We have been surprised by the real strength of support for what we are trying to do,” said Mark.

Eddy and Pat, aged 68 and 55, are looking forward to buying a narrowboat with the proceeds from the pub, and touring the waterways of England and Wales.

Eddy said he was open to all offers, but acknowledged the desire of his customers to keep the Gardeners Rest as a pub.

Find out more about the share appeal at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/gardenersrest.

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