Doors open for the first time at Cocking pub converted into community hub
More than 130 people saw a new community hub in Cocking open its doors for business on Friday.
The Blue Bell Community Hub welcomed residents for a drinks reception, ahead of a grand opening which is planned for next year.
Philip Jackson, the President of the Community Benefit Society, which owns the hub, marked the occasion by pulling the very first pint at the refurbished building.
Frances Russell, a member of the project management group, said: “It was a really good atmosphere, it went really well.
“I think the whole feeling was one of warmth and welcome.”
It was a significant moment for the project, which was sparked two years ago when the pub closed down.
Residents hoping to turn the space into a restaurant, bar and bed and breakfast accommodation as a focal point for the village clubbed together to purchase the building in April.
Since then, a lot of hard work has taken place to get it ready for the opening.
Ms Russell said: “It looks like a completely different place.
“It’s bright, welcoming, and what we are offering is different.
“We’ve got a cafe atmosphere as well as a bar.
“We are encouraging people to drop round for a coffee and cake, and not just a drink.
“It’s a much more community focused offer.
“Already we have seen older residents who live on their own dropping in for coffee, just to take that moment to talk to somebody, which is so important in a small community.”
The Blue Bell will now be open for coffee and drinks. A full food menu will be available from Saturday.
Work will continue on the project in the new year, when the village shop and post office will be moved to the site in the second phase of the scheme.
A new fundraising appeal will be launched to help see this work completed.
To find out more, visit thebluebellatcocking.co.uk