Sheffield pub regulars are preparing a bid to buy their local after raising more than £200,000 in community shares.
A total of 382 investors pledged £237,600 in just 49 days after learning that landlords Eddy Munnelly and Pat Wilson were planning to retire and sell The Gardeners Rest in Neepsend.
The couple said they would be happy to sell to the community if they could match a commercial bid already on the table. And with that option now looking increasingly likely, the steering group behind the community share appeal are now ready to open negotiations.
Mark Powell, 67, from Lodge Moor, led the campaign. Shortly after the deadline for pledges closed on Monday, he said: "That's a pretty good total. I'm trying to take it all in at the moment.
"Failure was never an option as far as we were concerned. It was just a question of how we were going to get there.
"The exciting thing is that so many people have pledged to put their support into keeping The Gardeners Rest as an independent pub."
Everyone who pledged will now get the same voting rights in the new Gardeners Rest Community Society - regardless of how much they put in.
A shareholders meeting is due to take place tonight, where the next steps will be discussed. But a bid to buy the pub is likely to be made soon.
Mark said: "It's only right that those of us who have been steering the society ask 'shall we buy the pub or not?'
"We know that Pat and Eddy are waiting to hear from us with some enthusiasm. Then it's just a question of putting a package together.
"What they wanted was for us to at least match any other bid. We believe we can do that."
The Gardeners Rest is a firm favourite on the Kelham Island real ale trail, and its future now looks to be secure.
Mark added: "There is huge excitement about what the pub can offer to the community, and what the community can offer to the pub."
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