On the A396 from Exeter to Tiverton you come across the Stoke Canon Inn in the village of Stoke Canon. Here is a community which knows what it is like to live without their village pub. Until recently the villagers of Stoke Canon lost their pub for 18 months until they decided to group together and form a community pub that opened two years ago.
Bar manager Ken Bowden, who is the pub's only employee, said in the Exeter Express & Echo newspaper last week - "Things are going very well and the trade is very healthy. The pub was closed after two previous landlords could not make a go of it as the overheads were so high, as it was tied to a particular brewery. It was an unviable proposition but now we are on a very sound financial footing with a bit set aside in reserve.
"When it was closed for 18 months everyone was sat around scratching their heads as a village without a pub is not really a village. It is the heart of the community. And people did not socialise as much when it was not around. They would not see people the way they do now.
"People now come from all over to support us when they hear we are a community pub. I think our model is definitely the way forward. It is the only way to go with a struggling pub. It is a tough environment but it is vital people support their pub. Otherwise they will lose it”.
Ray Dwan, who is the secretary of the Exeter and East Devon CAMRA Branch, said: "Pubs are very important to a local community and have plenty of spin offs. They are a place for meeting people and the site of various activities and entertainment from pool to darts and quizzes. Many do very good food now as well.
"The industry is still struggling and there are approximately 20 a week closing nationally. The problems are that tenants have got so many out-goings with rent and restrictions on the beer they can buy.
"Sadly we have lost many of the good pubs and it is always a big loss to the community. We are faring better than many inner-city places with closures but we haven't been without losses”.
The moral of this story of a pub & a village that aren’t too far from Sidbury could not be any clearer. Pubs that are tied to the pub company are struggling to survive. However, there are many pubs that once they have been released from the shackles of the pub company they can revive & be successful. The Red Lion can roar again!
That is why the Campaign to retain the Red Lion is underway!