Family fundraising to prevent Nuthampstead pub closure

PUBLISHED: 16:33 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:06 04 September 2018

The Woodman Inn in Nuthampstead is being threatened with closure - despite serving the community for hundreds of years  so owners Jenna and Stuart are fighting to keep it open. Picture: Courtesy of Jenna Johnson

The Woodman Inn in Nuthampstead is being threatened with closure - despite serving the community for hundreds of years so owners Jenna and Stuart are fighting to keep it open. Picture: Courtesy of Jenna Johnson

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The family who own and live at The Woodman Inn in Nuthampstead are crowdfunding in a bid to prevent the closure of the the 17th century pub.

Stuart Johnson from the Woodman Inn in Nuthampstead. Picture: Jenna JohnsonStuart Johnson from the Woodman Inn in Nuthampstead. Picture: Jenna Johnson

Stuart and Jenna Johnson took over the Woodman in 2010 from Stuart’s parents – who bought the pub in the 1980s.

When they took the reins, the business was in debt and – although they have modernised and adapted to changing customer demand over the years – it has now got to the point where they have reduced the asking price after putting the pub on the market.

Jenna and Stuart Johnson. Picture: Courtesy of Jenna JohnsonJenna and Stuart Johnson. Picture: Courtesy of Jenna Johnson

But the couple hope the pub will continue to serve the community and Jenna – who has daughter Olive, seven, four-year-old twins Rita and Pearl and one-year-old son Fox with Stuart – told the Crow: “This is our home, our children love it here, we don’t want to go – but if we can’t raise £43,000 by November 7 then it is likely that we will have to close by the new year.

“We were looking at getting planning permission to sell off a big plot of land – but our final appeal was rejected by North Herts District Council three weeks ago. It’s devastating.”

The Woodman Inn owners Jenna and Stuart Johnson's children Olive, Pearl, Rita and Fox. Picture: Jenna JohnsonThe Woodman Inn owners Jenna and Stuart Johnson's children Olive, Pearl, Rita and Fox. Picture: Jenna Johnson

Stuart has been training for an endurance challenge to help raise funds. He will be climbing the three peaks – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – and cycling the 450 miles between them all.

Jenna said: “We’ve got to the point where we’ve got nothing else. My husband is a big fitness fanatic – so he’s taking on this challenge to try and raise the funds to prevent the pub being taken from us and sold.

The Woodman Inn owners Jenna and Stuart Johnson's children Olive, Pearl, Rita and Fox. Picture: Jenna JohnsonThe Woodman Inn owners Jenna and Stuart Johnson's children Olive, Pearl, Rita and Fox. Picture: Jenna Johnson

“The sad thing is trade is really good at the moment. Stuart is at the bar from 9am until late at night, and you have to keep a smile on your face. It’s such a struggle, but we can’t give up.

“There’s so much history here as the area was an American air base in the Second World War. We display historical photos and artefacts around the inn – this could all be lost if it closes.

Jenna and Stuart Johnson's children have grown up in the pub.  Picture: Courtesy of Jenna JohnsonJenna and Stuart Johnson's children have grown up in the pub. Picture: Courtesy of Jenna Johnson

“We will be running lots of fundraisers and, as well as donations for Stuart’s challenge, we are also hoping to set up a ‘Friends of the Woodman’ group to help us with finding investors for the pub. This would mean them having a small share in the business, in return for an investment of money. It’s early days so we really need some assistance from the community in pulling it together.”

To donate to the cause go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/woodmaninn or call 01763 848328 for more on the friends group.

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