A COMMUNITY owned village pub in south Shropshire has won a major award.

The Pheasant at Neenton, has been crowned National Winner of the Best Social Enterprise, Charity or Community category of the 2019/20 Rural Business Awards.

It is a story of a rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

The Pheasant Inn closed in 2006 after the last owners retired, leaving locals without a place to meet and socialise.

But strong community desire to see it reopen led to the creation of Neenton Community Society, reopening the pub as a community owned asset. The enterprise now provides employment for more than a dozen local young people, full or part-time under the guidance of managers Mark Harris and Sarah Cowley.

The Pheasant won the title at the Award ceremony in Manchester.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has been a firm supporter of The Pheasant, including pulling pints on its reopening, and has previously nominated head chef Mark Harris for Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year.

“I am absolutely delighted The Pheasant at Neenton has been recognised as the best social enterprise in the country,” said Mr Dunne.

“This award is just recognition for everyone at The Pheasant and Neenton Community Society, whom I congratulate wholeheartedly for their hard work in delivering this success.

“The Pheasant’s story, from derelict building to indispensable community pub – clearly resonated with the judges and provides an inspirational example of how communities can protect these assets for the future.”

Speaking after being presented with the award, John Pickup, Chairman of Neenton Community Society said the community has been rewarded for its efforts.

“Our community has invested far more than the premises are worth as a pub, and continues to plough in thousands of hours of volunteer time,” said Mr Pickup.