Share Offer Extended

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Raising Money Continues.

Many thanks are due to all those who have bought shares to help save The Thorold Arms for the community.

To comply with the deadline imposed on us by the Receivers, we were due to close our share offer on 31st May. For a number of reasons (including the bank holidays, the prospect of late investments, and the shortfall to our minimum target) the management committee has decided to extend the offer for the time being.

After the 38 days that the offer was initially scheduled to be open, on May 31st 2016, the campaign has raised an impressive £107,250 – an amazing effort! At this point the statistics show:

  • 97 shareholders of whom 83 are in Marston or Hougham (along with some in Gelston, Syston, Brandon and further afield)
  • Average shareholder investment is £1,100 (over three times the national average for similar community projects)
  • Within the villages of Hougham and Marston there are 52 households (24% of the 221 households) invested at an average of £1,950 per household.

One of the main problems in raising enough money is that the community is very small and, so far, less than a quarter of the nearest households to the old shop and pub have invested.

However, despite the smaller number of households and shorter deadline, the sums raised were at almost exactly the same rate and amount as two other successful community ventures: Slayley’s Rose and Crown and The Anglers’ Rest in Derbyshire, with whom we had a very useful meeting in January. The Anglers’ was also featured on the BBC’s The One Show in early May. These two projects both held their share offers open for over 3 months.

When we visited the Anglers’ Rest they told us that the single most important piece of advice they could give was to persevere and not give up. The title of their presentation to us was “The story of a community that wouldn’t give up”.

The Plunkett Foundation, who have given us a huge amount of support and advice throughout the process, say that we’ve already exceeded the average total amount of a community investment (£73,129) and that in the short time available to us it is “impressive in terms of community support”. They too believe we should persist.

Many investors who dropped off investments in Hougham by hand have specifically told us “no matter what happens, don’t give up”. Unfortunately £107,000 is not enough to buy and renovate the property. So we have a plan…

Following a strategy meeting on Monday 30th May, the management committee resolved to keep the share offer open for a further period to enable us to obtain more investment. The period of extension is presently set at two further months but may be cut short by the Receiver’s plans to sell the property at auction, probably in mid-July. The committee are:

  • Talking with several possible “white knight” investors;
  • Following up our previous efforts to obtain investment from local businesses;
  • Considering seeking ‘crowd-funding’ via an online platform that should expose us to a previously untapped market;
  • Applying for grant / loan funding that is newly available from the government backed ‘more than a pub’ initiative. We will be one of the first in the country to apply for funds from this new source;
  • Investigating loans and non typical / bespoke funding arrangements;
  • Negotiating with the receivers.

As was the case before, if the property cannot be purchased by us, our efforts will cease and investors’ funds will be returned in full.

If you have any suggestions or questions about any of this, please don’t suffer in silence. Please get in touch through the contact us page. We can still supply a few printed share prospectuses and application forms – just ask.

In the meantime, please continue spreading the word.

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