One of the first pubs in the country to be bought by its locals is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its community-owned status.

The Beauchamp Arms in Dymock, Gloucestershire was taken over by its customers in 1997 and is marking the milestone with a party at the pub this weekend.

It was the last pub in the village and had been facing closure until the parish took out a £160,000 loan to refurbishit and keep it going. The cash has since been paid back via rent from the tenants leaving the parish with the pleasant problem of finding new ways to spend the income.

The current licensees, John and Linda Griffiths, have been running the pub for 15 years with great success. They say this is in part down to the parish council operating at arm's length and letting them make business decisions.

John said: "We have a meeting with the parish council once a year to discuss maintenance issues and future plans but otherwise they have given us space to run the business ourselves."

They are supported by The Friends of Beauchamp Arms group, which raises further funds to support the pub.

Ian Brown, who heads up the group, said: "The purchase and running of the pub has been entirely supported by the community throughout the twenty years. Situated, as it is by the village green and flanked by the church and parish hall it has become the spiritual, economic and social hub of the village. I have to take my hat off to the Parish Council, it was an inspired idea."

There are around 60 to 70 pubs in community ownership but none have been run that way for as long as The Beauchamp Arms.

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