A VILLAGE pub near Hereford could reopen within the next 12 months if the community group behind the bid can raise £350,000.

Wellington’s Old Boot closed in 2019, but a new group has formed to bring it back to life.

David Wood, who is spearheading the project, said the pub has been successful in the past so is hopeful the community can find £300,000 to take it over – plus £50,000 for immediate work.

In an online meeting for the village to hear the group’s plans, Mr Wood said that because the pub has been registered as an asset of community value, it has until July 1 to put a bid forward.

If the group, made of people with a “variety of impressive skills”, fails in its mission, Mr Wood fears the village’s only pub could be lost forever.

He said the pub could be open again by April 2022, adding:“John Gallagher, the owner of the pub, would like to see the pub remain in the village and is keen to work with us. I see him about once a fortnight, keep him in the picture, and he’s very supportive of what we’re trying to do.”

The group has already sent out a questionnaire to villagers, and 118 people said they would welcome the return of the Old Boot.

Mr Wood said the responses had given the group a “very good idea” of what people would want from a community pub, and how much money could be raised through the sale of shares, which will launch on June 8.

If the group can buy the freehold to the pub, it would be a free house run day-to-day by a tenant and not the group, meaning it would not rely on volunteers.

As well as an initial £50,000 for immediate costs, it would invest surplus profits into improving the pub and adding facilities to benefit the village, and shareholders could expect dividends.

Work is also under way to see what grants, donations and loans would be available to establish the viability of the project.