Shouldham Community Enterprises in West Norfolk, which two years ago - with help from Plunkett Foundation - saved its local pub the King’s Arms from closure by selling community shares to 189 members, has recently started a school meals service to its village primary school, St Martin’s at Shouldham.

Using grant money from WREN’s Communities Action Fund and the Dulverton Trust (administered by Norfolk Community Foundation), Shouldham Village Hall had its kitchens completely renovated, and these are now being used to cook the meals, providing an important service to the village.

To give the service a trial run, a ‘Community Meal’ was held in the village hall and all the village was invited to try out the school meals for free. Around 70 villagers filled the hall, lining up to receive their toad in the hole followed by apple crumble and custard. Although some of the participants were of school age, many others came to relive their school days and greatly enjoyed the occasion - including the scramble for seconds!

Phil Harriss of Shouldham Community Enterprises said: “We wanted to go through all the procedures ahead of launching our school meals service so decided to turn it into a bit of an occasion for the village. Everyone – young and old – had a great time re-enacting their time spent queuing for school dinners! Although we didn’t charge for the food, people did give donations totalling £150 for the Parent-Teacher Association for the village primary school. It was a great success and we’re now ready to start the service in earnest!”

Shouldham Community Enterprises was born in March 2013 in response to the closure of the village’s pub, the King’s Arms, in 2012. After overwhelming local support for saving the pub, Plunkett helped the group with advice and support and they raised a fantastic £150,000 through a community share offer from 189 members after registering as a Community Benefit Society. A grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government enables the group to finally buy and fully refurbish the pub, and it reopened in September 2014. Since then the community haven’t stopped, but have contined to offer a wide range of services to their community, including a café entirely staffed by volunteers. They have recently been chosen as CAMRA’s West Norfolk Pub of the Year 2016.

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