With the help of the Community Shares Wales project delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre, the group launched a share offer in May 2018. Asking for a minimum purchase of 50 shares, costing £1 each, they attracted over 500 investors from a community of 2,000 residents.
Elin Angharad Davies, newly appointed Director and Secretary of Tafarn yr Heliwr, said:
“When we first set out on this journey as a small group of volunteers, we never believed in our wildest dreams that we would be able to raise over eighty thousand pounds in just over eight weeks. We are completely overwhelmed by the response of our community to save their local pub, which used to be the central meeting place for sports clubs and visitors to the Llyn Peninsula.
The training and support we’ve received from the Wales Co-operative Centre through this process has been second-to-none. From establishing us as a Community Benefit Society, so we can include as wide an ownership as possible, to guiding us through the legals of a community share offer, they’ve been a reliable advisor and mentor in times of uncertainty.”
Carly McCreesh, Community Shares Wales Project Manager at the Wales Co-operative Centre said:
“The local pub is the heart and soul of many a community across the country, but sadly Wales is currently losing one pub per week.* A community share scheme can help empower local people to save the places that matter to them, or help owners leave their legacy in safe hands. By investing in the services and facilities that matter to them, and by having a say in the way they are run, communities gain a sense of ownership and grow stronger as they work together to change their future.”
Bleddyn and Bethan Evans, members of the Tafarn yr Heliwr committee, said:
“People want somewhere where you can just drop in for a cup of tea – and that’s what we are targeting. This is all about providing a space that brings the community together. Elderly people in the community have said there’s nowhere to go anymore just to sit and actually talk to someone.
We’ve created a buzz and people are excited to see the final project. We’ve raised community spirit and the open day people were really excited. We’ve had about 30 volunteers so far and they’ve all said they are pleased to feel a part of something in the community.
Everyone has been able to get involved. People who haven’t been able to afford a share have done things for free, such as local bands putting on gigs to help us fundraise.
We’ve got one really shy volunteer and on the open day he was talking to people and guiding them around and I would never have imagined that. We’ve got other volunteers who don’t otherwise do community activities and they’ve enjoyed being involved and meeting new people. People are enjoying having the opportunity to muck in now that the renovation is beginning.
It’s amazing how many people with skills have come forward. A local photographer came along and took some arty photos which we have been able to use. Another local person made a drone video which was a really good thing to share. We also got local celebrities to do video clips to promote what we are doing.
Everyone on the committee has a different background. We have a Welsh tutor who has been great with translating and filling out forms, an architect who drew up our plans, a journalist who has written the share offer documents and grant applications, business owners helping with the business model and tradespeople like carpenters and electricians will help with the renovation. We’ve also had people on the committee who are well connected and know who everyone is, which has been real strength for us.
People from across the community have bought shares. Our oldest shareholder is 97, and lots of people bought shares are gifts for children and grandchildren. We’ve also had investment from people who grew up in the area and have moved away.
We went along to local events and stalls and even had a stall in the porch of the local Spar on Saturday morning to speak to people buying the papers! We linked up with a local brewery who let us use their venue for events; and in we can use them as a supplier once we are open.
We did a lot of things online but we also sent paper copies to groups that might not be online such as Age Well Club, the local WI, and we put flyers in the local Community Transport so that we were connecting with everyone. We’ve made strategic partners in the community too, such as partnering with the local housing group.
We’ve also become better connected to people in the community shares field. We’ve even been approached by a few community groups looking to do the same thing in their village and we’ve ended up mentoring the Menter y Plu chairmain to support them with their community share offer. I know that he has Wednesdays off work, because every Wednesday he rings me and I give him advice about how we dealt with the same things that he is facing!”
“There is still a lot of work for us to make this pub the heartbeat of the community once again but we have a bright future and a future which is now owned and run by the people. Over 500 of them! You can’t put a price on that.”