MORE than £70,000 has so far been raised in a bid to save the White Hart pub at St Dogmaels.

Time was called by the current owners for the final occasion at the watering hall on May 5 but, determined not to lose a pivotal part of the village, locals have formed the White Hart Community Inn project and have set about raising the £270,000 needed to buy the freehold and run it as a community asset.

With the help of the Community Shares Wales project, which is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre and funded by the National Lottery Community fund, the group launched a share offer at the end of March of this year.

Each share costs £200, and people may purchase between one and 100 shares. To date, the scheme has raised £71,800. There is also a peer-to-peer lending scheme available.

“The White Hart is so important to the community,” said committee chair Jo Pitt. “There is also a lot of history attached to the pub, Admiral Lord Nelson is rumoured to have visited St Dogmaels, and more recently their royal highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall stopped at the pub during a tour of the village.”

Purchasing a share in the ancient pub – which celebrates its 250th anniversary on May 17 – is more than fundraising; it is an opportunity to “buy a piece of history.”

“You have to be over 16 to buy a share, but a guardian may buy them. Lots of parents in the village are buying them for their children as presents.”

“It is not about the alcohol; it is about the people and the social aspect,” says fellow group member Victoria Goddard. “In a rural community you need somewhere to socialise and to glue the community together.”

Jo added: “We’ve seen a reduction in services and transport in rural areas, and there are not the same opportunities to socialise as in towns and cities. So, we are hoping to be able to extend the White Hart’s provision to make it a hub of activity for different reasons throughout the day and to complement other activities taking place in St Dogmaels.

“We hope that former village residents or people with memories of visiting St Dogmaels will also help us achieve our goal.

“Since we started on this venture we have had tremendous support from a number of organisations, including the Wales Co-operative Centre, PLANED and the Plunkett Foundation.

“Their help and advice has enabled us to take the necessary steps towards realising our ambition of buying and running the White Hart Inn as a community.”

The group is looking to raise further funds by staging a picnic in the abbey ground on Monday, May 27.