Staff cuts, picnic tables in trees and thousands of pounds worth of damage caused by a flood at a village pub over the Christmas holiday have left the owner ‘devastated’.
Proprietor of the White Hart pub at Stopham Bridge, Chris Sinfield, said a ‘severe’ bout of floods on Christmas Eve had led to £10,000 of damage, loss of business and staff.
“This will have a massive impact on my business. I’m devastated,” said Mr Sinfield.
“Sadly, this has ruined many of our regulars’ special occasions and festivities.”
Said to be the pub’s busiest time of year, Mr Sinfield is still trying to assess the level of damage caused.
The 43-year-old said: “The entire ground floor including the kitchen flooded, with water over a metre deep throughout at its worst, with the cellar remaining flooded floor-to-ceiling for five days.”
Consequently, with the pub closed for an undetermined period, Mr Sinfield has had the difficult task of letting his staff go.
“I have sadly had no choice but to lay everyone off, which is not the greatest start to anyone’s new year, especially when I have such a good team.”
Mr Sinfield fears there could be structural damage due to the impact of the flood, along with the loss and damage of furniture and precious belongings.
“Please let us know if you see any of our garden furniture that seems to be scattered along the banks of the Arun – picnic tables in trees just illustrates how high the water got.
“The garden was totally cleared, despite many of the items being in concrete.”
The £10,000 loss is culminated by the flood damage and power cuts, which spoiled food stored in fridges and freezers.
“It certainly has been an eventful year.
“I took on a 20-year lease just 15 months ago for this beautiful old pub. I have invested close to a quarter of a million pounds.
“Despite the severe flooding, I still feel this pub is a unique gem in West Sussex.”
As the historic pub remains in the shadow of a new year gloom, villagers have stepped up to offer Mr Sinfield their support.
“It’s been overwhelming. I’ve had offers of help from people who live in the area and regulars.”
As a symbol of Mr Sinfield’s resilience, he has relit the lights on the Christmas tree that stands outside the pub as a beacon of hope.
“I’m keeping the Christmas tree up at least until the end of January. It’s a defiance to the weather and the 12 days of Christmas, as well as a symbol that we are still here – do not forget us.”
The White Hart, Stopham Bridge, is set to re-open in the near future.