We called a public meeting in September at Mosse Hall, Aldwick, which was packed out with more than 200 people. It was a great show of support. We outlined then that we intended to set up a Community Benefit Society and launch a share issue so that every investor would own a part of the pub and have a say in its future.
That is what we are working on now. We are being advised by the Plunkett Foundation, a 100 year-old charity which specialises in helping rural businesses set up. Our urban village qualifies. Plunkett have helped 85 new community pubs in the UK, and all are trading successfully.
By our next public meeting in November we had set up The Aldwick Community Society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. This is the legal company which will launch the share issue, buy the Ship Inn, refit it, and rent it out to a tenant.
At that meeting we told the packed Mosse Hall we needed to raise £500,000 from the Aldwick residents, local companies, and beyond. Our steering committee are now contacting Friends individually to see if they will pledge to buy shares.
So far, almost 90 people have pledged £91,000 ahead of the share issue launch.
We have also secured a £2,500 bursary from the Plunkett Foundation which helps us to pay for reports, this website, publicity, hiring rooms for meetings, and official registrations. Together with generous donations from Friends of the Ship Inn, we are able to have the working capital to carry on the vital work of the campaign.