The Prince of Wales popped into a community owned pub last week to highlight the importance of rural pubs serving their local residents.

His Royal Highness visited the Fleece Inn at Hillesley, Gloucestershire, where he met kids from the local primary school and representatives of the pub's clubs, societies and sports teams.

As is often tradition for the Prince, he also pulled a pint of beer – Arbor Ales' Mosaic pale ale – and even had time to throw a few darts.

 

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The Fleece Inn dates from the 17th century and is the last remaining pub in the parish of Hillesley and Tresham.

In 2011, the pub closed and was under threat of redevelopment. Residents came together with Pub is The Hub, and five families underwrote the purchase with 120 members of the community becoming shareholders in Hillesley Pub Company Ltd.

The freehold purchase was completed in June 2012, and, after a refurbishment, it reopened five weeks later in July 2012 and was recently named CAMRA Pub of the Year 2018 for the South West region.

The pub trades as a traditional local and attracts ramblers walking The Cotswold Way. Two darts teams have formed as well as a golf society. The pub is also used by the local football, tennis, bridge and cricket teams, and cycle group. They also hold regular charity fundraisers and work closely with the church, the school and the Parish Council.

Licensee Karen McGeock said: "His Royal Highness was very relaxed and seemed to really enjoy himself, having some great banter with the locals. He even offered a local cider maker the chance to visit his own private orchard and had a lovely chat with the village's oldest resident, Margaret Plummer."

John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub, added: "His Royal Highness has always been keen to maintain essential services in rural communities and we were delighted that he chose to visit this lovely community-owned pub to raise awareness about the vital role that pubs play in our day-to-day lives."