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'Sacre bleu! Top chef Raymond helps save our village pub
Buy this photo » Great Milton villagers outside the Bull
THEIR village might be known around the globe for its famous restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
But locals in Great Milton have not fared so well when it comes to village pubs.
With the Red Lion, the Bell and King’s Head having all been turned into homes, residents decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure the village keeps the drinks flowing at its only remaining pub, the Bull.
And with a little help from their celebrated French neighbour Raymond Blanc, they are busily raising the money to buy it themselves.
The picturesque 17th century pub was put on the market by Greene King in December.
And a public meeting was called last month amid fears it might be turned into a home. Within a week more than 100 people had committed a total of £200,000, with contributions ranging from £500 to £20,000.
Villagers have gone on to submit an offer, which they say has been accepted. The total raised so far is £250,000, with the final target £320,000.
They have now created their own company, Great Milton Community Pub Ltd.
Chairman Steve Harrod, who lives in what used to be the Red Lion, said: “Our intention is to run the Bull as a traditional village pub, with quality food. It is the last pub in the village and nobody wanted to see it go. It will be retained as a community asset for future generations.”
Villagers are now seeking a tenant landlord.
Mr Harrod, an industrial writer, said Mr Blanc, creator of Le Manoir, made a cash donation but would not say publicly how much.
He said: “It is frequently used by guests staying at Le Manoir for two or three nights who want a pint in a nice pub environment. It is also used by drivers who drop people off at Le Manoir and want to eat.”
Raymond Blanc said: “I am pleased to support a much- needed village amenity. Finding the right landlord who can create a welcoming ambiance is key. With so many villagers providing financial support they obviously appreciate the need for a successful pub.”
Real ale campaigner Steve Lawrence said: “Anything that keeps a pub open is a good idea. But it is great when it happens in a village, with local people co-operating.”
A Greene King spokesman said: “We are in discussions with a group in Great Milton regarding the purchase.”