A determined couple have been able to celebrate Christmas with their regulars, despite a fire devastating their business.

Disaster struck at the 13th century Bell Inn at Parkham, Devon, on February 13.

It destroyed the thatched roof and spread through the pub but smart work by firefighters helped save much of the furniture.

With the help of locals, and insurance firm NFU Mutual, the team have been able to set up at the village hall. They have been trading from temporary pub 'The Inn Over the Road' since April.

They have also had an early Christmas dinner to celebrate with the community and others who have supported them.



Michael Sanders, who runs the pub with wife Rachel (pictured above with NFU Mutual's Julian Bennett, centre) said: "It will not be a silent night this Christmas and we would like to thank all those who are helping The Bell to ring again; the fire service for saving us and our belongings, our insurers NFU Mutual for acting so quickly to put a roof over our head and keep our business operating and all our friends and neighbours in this wonderful community who've been so amazing in their support for us this year.

"We saved nearly 99 per cent of the fittings, including all of the tables and chairs and pictures from the walls and when we opened The Inn Over the Road in April, we were able to use everything to recreate our much-loved local."

Julian Bennett said: "Keeping the business running, albeit from temporary premises, while the repairs to the pub are underway, has been an absolute priority for the Sanders'. The pub is an integral part of the community and I think everyone is relieved and happy that it's been able to continue."

The fire is believed to have started in the chimney and transferred to the roof.

Refurbishment work is underway at The Bell Inn and it is expected to reopen in the summer.