Drewsteignton residents will remember November 30 as a momentous day when the community received the keys to the local pub after a successful crowdfunding campaign to save it from closure.

Earlier this year, a campaign opened to save the Drewe Arms pub from permanent closure by turning the business into a community pub. The campaign proved to be a great success with support frojm over 500 individuals. As a result, enough money was raised to buy this historic pub from the pub group corporate, Stonegate.

The sale was completed last week and Toby Rubbra, who headed up the steering group behind the community ownership campaign, received the keys to the pub at 3pm last week.

It was snowing for the first time this winter, which only made the pub look more picturesque and more welcome to those steering group members present, who were all keen to get across the threshold.

“We bought bubbles, beer and nibbles and even firewood to light the fire and within minutes the pub was brought back to life,” said Jane Martin, a steering group member.

“The front bar was warm and cosy and ringing with voices toasting being back in our pub. It was like nothing had changed. The place was exactly as we remembered it, like it had never closed.”

ITV Westcountry were there to immortalise the moment on the evening news, as was local photographer Mike Smallcombe.

“It all seems surreal,” said Toby Rubbra, who headed up the steering group.

After more than 14 months closed after being put up for sale by Stonegate, this pub’s future had seemed in serious doubt and the village had been plunged into an eerie gloom at the possible loss of its famous, historic centrepiece that had served so many generations over so many years.

But residents rallied round and donated a total of over £500,000 through an immense crowdfunding campaign which allowed the steering group to purchase the pub on the community’s behalf.

As Toby told the reporter covering the celebrations: “We’re so grateful to the five hundred plus people who supported this campaign, which has culminated in getting the keys to this pub today, for the community.

“Now the work truly begins to get The Drewe back up and running as a vibrant community hub by the spring. It’s all incredibly exciting, the potential for the pub immense and we can‘t wait to welcome every person who helped make it happen through the door.”

Given the extent of repair and refurbishment required the steering group does not expect the pub to be back and trading until March of next year, but members do plan to hold pop-up pub nights similar to that held in the square during the campaign earlier this year; only this time inside the pub.

The pub dates back to 1756 and is near to the National Trust’s Castle Drogo built at the turn of the century by Julius Drewe, who so loved the pub that he named it The Drewe Arms in his name.