Happy birthday!

The White Lion celebrates its first birthday as a community pub this Saturday, 29 April, with a special get together for villagers.

The Palmers’ pub, which had been closed since the summer of 2021, reopened last year to a long queue of customers. The opening followed a massively successful fundraising campaign and a major interior refurbishment, carried out by vocal volunteers.

‘It’s certainly been an eventful twelve months,’ said Rick Dyke, Chairman of Broadwindsor Community Pub Ltd.

The pub won West Dorset CAMRA Pub of the Year, Palmers’ Master Cellarman award and retained its five-star food hygiene rating.

‘Our first manager, Kate Staff, and her entire family put an enormous effort into getting the pub open and trading during 2022,’ Mr Dyke said.

‘It is well documented how the hospitality trade was affected by Covid, how many people left the profession and the consequent difficulty there was in recruiting experienced staff.

‘We, therefore, have admiration for the task that Kate and her family took on and for keeping the pub open during difficult trading conditions.

‘Ultimately though, Kate and her daughters decided it was time to move on and we wish them well in their new ventures.’

The pub is now run day-today by managers Kerry and Clive Dammert, who took up the reins just in time for Easter. The couple are experienced in the pub and hotel trade and were looking for their own place to run.

Said Mr Dyke: ‘We’ve had very positive reports of a warm welcome, great interaction and exceptionally good food.

‘We’re delighted that Kerry and Clive have joined us, and we’re excited about the next stage of the White Lion’s progress into a pub that is widely renowned for the quality of its food.’

In between managers, volunteers manned the pumps to keep the pub not only open but serving food.

Said Mr Dyke: ‘We had volunteers preparing for opening-up, serving behind the bar and, crucially, preparing excellent food and, in particular, Sunday roasts. They are too many to mention by name but their support in this way meant that the pub was still successfully trading and hence it was easier to attract new experienced managers.

‘What was heartening too was that the volunteers were a mix of both the committee and members of the community.  So thank you to those who cleaned, pot-washed, acted as chefs and sous-chefs, kitchen porters and also waited on the tables.’

Volunteers still run the pub on Tuesday nights when a chip van makes its weekly visit to Broadwindsor and a folk music session is held once a month.

Mr Dyke said he was grateful for the loyal support of customers, including local farmers who attend a monthly breakfast with guest speaker. The event is co-ordinated by farmer and parish councillor Andrew Frampton.

‘Volunteers help in the kitchen and wait on tables. The event has been so successful that it has now spawned a monthly village Community Breakfast, which is also very well attended.’

He also paid tribute to a group of churchgoers who meet in the pub on Saturday mornings for coffee, cake and chat.

‘They’re always cheerful and amusing and their support is greatly appreciated.’

Ending on a cautionary note, Mr Dyke said: ‘As with the hospitality trade generally, we have seen electricity costs skyrocket over the past year.

‘To make matters worse, the electricity companies view the trade as a bad risk with many reluctant to even quote, whereas those who do quote clearly see it as an opportunity to charge what they like.

‘Despite this, support from central government is negligible. Somehow, these spiralling costs need to be met and ultimately, this has to be by the paying customer.

‘This is where the warm welcome becomes even more vital because without it and the atmosphere it helps generate, what future does the British pub have?’