United we drink, together we fall over (I know that’s not how the saying goes)

The story of how my village saved our pub.


Half Moon main image


“Yay Balcombe!! We did it!!!” shouts a sign about three-times as tall as me, which emblazons the side of the Half Moon Inn in Balcombe (in a questionable font, but that’s by-the-by, and is not something that really matters to 99.9% of the population, who don’t work in publishing. Also …use of exclamation marks. Camaaaan. Whoever printed it was clearly very excited, so I’ll let it slide.)

So what we did, was to save our local pub from being sold. ‘We’ being over 250 investors (of which I am not actually one – soz. I am impoverished on account of owning a horse), who raised over £270,000 to purchase, do up and re-open the village pub.

That in itself is pretty cool. £270,000! (Appropriate use of exclamation mark alert). And after much head-scratching and searching for the right tenant, they (the committee in charge of the afore-mentioned campaign), re-opened it last week. (For the unabridged version, click here.)

Balcombe Community Pub logo

It looks bright, it looks modern, it looks clean, and – most importantly – it was full of people over the opening weekend. And I loved it.

I have really missed the pub. You can’t beat a pub. I’m genuinely delighted to have it back.

But how long will the village – and those beyond – support it for?

The campaign was amazing, hard-fought, truly impressive. But it was not without its nay-sayers. (This is Britain, after all, and we love to nay-say …is that a thing? To nay-say?)

There were impassioned speeches, there were calls to arms, meetings, posters, newspaper articles, and yes, even tears (not mine, for once).

But there were also mutterings about locals only supporting it because it would affect their house prices if it wasn’t there.

Some asked the question, ‘who were these generous benefactors, who never used the pub as a resource before and probably wouldn’t again?’

There were even some who just chipped in with the curmudgeonly, “it’ll never work” – very constructive. (Also quite Victor Meldrew – Eighties reference anyone?)

To them I say, does it really matter if those hundreds of people don’t use the pub? Of couuuurse the more that do the better, (and it must definitely hold its own as a viable, and hopefully successful, business), but would it not just be nice to be extremely grateful for their very generous contributions to the cause?

And to the Victor Meldrews I say, guess what? It did work. And will continue to work for as long as the village continues to do what it does best – stick together.

Yes, please do come and support the pub, come for a drink, for a snack, for lunch, supper. Or, if that’s not your bag, don’t – but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, and don’t begrudge what even the most-hardened critics must confess to be a huge, phenomenal, fantastic achievement, that will only serve to benefit the village.

Now let’s all get drunk and fall over.
(Do I have to say ‘please drink responsibly’ after that? Surely not.)


That’s a bitta history, right there, and we saved it.