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The Pheasant pub in the village of Neenton near Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

Since the Government ordered all pubs to close last month, The Pheasant has taken on a new role delivering hot meals and drink to people in the locality.

The pub has been run as a community enterprise since it reopened in 2014 – the building owned by people in the village, but the pub itself run by a professional management team. Prior to the reopening, the pub received a total renovation after falling into a state of disrepair, and under the management of Sarah Cowley and Mark Harris, it has also won a string of awards for its good food and drink and warm welcome.

John Pickup, chairman of Neenton Community Society, says the reaction to the new service has been tremendous. he says :

“People are so happy they can get delicious daily meals, and drinks to go with them, without having to brave the supermarket queues,”

The Pheasant at Neenton is now owned by the village community

The society has also started supplying ‘essentials boxes’ including milk, home-made bread, eggs, home-churned butter, potatoes, vegetables, salad and fruit.
John Says :

“The boxes address the same need in a different way, They minimise the number of times people need to go to the shops, and are invaluable for the most vulnerable of our local residents.”

Bobbie Jarvis, society secretary, adds:

“For me, and others who live alone and are urged not to go out if at all possible, this service is an absolute lifeline. In these difficult times it’s wonderful we have The Pheasant as our community hub and huge credit must go to the local young people who are so quickly making these services happen for us.”

John says the pub is very much at the heart of village life, and its enforced closure has been a significant blow to the community:

“As the pub is the only public space or facility of any kind in the village, it’s the hub for village life and to have it closed leaves a huge hole in people’s lives, While they’re able to get food and drink still through collection or delivery, people miss the events that add the highlights to village life – the live music and the quizzes, and the very popular village suppers on a Monday evening.

But more than anything perhaps it’s the casual conversations, the banter and putting the world to rights, the ability to spontaneously celebrate and commiserate and put your own problems into the context of everyone else’s that people miss most.”

Bobbie adds:

“Without the pub in the village, there would have been very few social networks through which people can support each other.  We’d have been living lives in total isolation, behind closed doors, oblivious to the needs of others. Now, even though the pub is closed, it’s the nerve centre for operations and the means by which people can get food, drink and daily necessities, and help when they need it.”

As well as the food, the pub is also offering wines and beers, recently including local ales from Hop & Stagger, Wye Valley, Woods, and Hobson’s breweries. John says most of this is collected in four-pint packs, although it is also delivered with food orders.

The Pheasant at Neenton makes a perfect base for a break in the heart of south Shropshire’s glorious, yet quiet and undiscovered countryside, and the blue remembered hills of Housman’s poetry.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Ludlow, the slow-food capital of England (20 minutes); taking in the stunning views from the Shropshire Hills or enjoying this great walking country; touring the bevy of museums in and around the Ironbridge Gorge, the historical heart of the Industrial Revolution; travelling on the award-winning Severn Valley Railway; or visiting one of the many National Trust and English Heritage properties in the area, you can look forward to a wonderful evening at The Pheasant.

Mark Andrews, Shropshire Star

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