“I want the Red Lion in Yarnton to be for everyone, somewhere for people to chill, gather, hang out, congregate, relax, celebrate, have a laugh and get together – a real community hub,” Leanne Charlett tells me. “It has so much potential.”
She is on a mission to raise enough money to turn The Red Lion in Yarnton into a community pub, having grown up there as a child.
Her parents ran it for almost a decade back in the day, and Leanne says The Red Lion is so central to village life, that it would be sad to see it sold off.
Instead she is intent on buying it back for the village, but with her campaign only just gathering momentum she needs your help.
Priced £425,000, Leanne is currently getting a steering group together – all are welcome at Yarnton Village Hall on Monday 15 at 7.15pm – and then the fundraising will begin in earnest for villagers, locals and anyone who wants to own part of a pub.
And while it sounds like a big ask, pubs all over Oxfordshire have managed it from The Abingdon Arms in Beckley to The White House in Bladon, The Bull in Great Milton and The Plough in West Hanney.
“I’ve got so many ideas from having a village shop here to toddler groups, Aunt Sally teams, board games, a youth club, farmers markets, functions, BBQs,” Leanne says looking around the pub.
Outside the grass is already almost waist high but Leanne is confident about the future and can’t wait to see it restored.
“Yarnton is my life and my home and I think it’s always been a dream of mine to run this pub for the community”
“I have so many happy memories of The Red Lion – fancy dress parties, karaoke, football teams celebrating here after matches, NYE, kids playing in the pub’s children’s playground, weekends in the garden…
“My family has always lived in Yarnton and we live here still. It’s a great village and deserves a community pub,” she says. “Yarnton is my life and my home and I think it’s always been a dream of mine to run this pub for the community.”
Leanne is a carer and has five children, so is already pretty busy, but she is determined to raise the money needed to buy The Red Lion.
“We just need people to come forward and help us because it’s a really exciting opportunity”
Food wise she doesn’t want to turn it into a gastro pub, but serve good family food. “People can come and eat and play darts or pool. They don’t need to drink alcohol here, just to come and enjoy themselves,” she says.
There is already a deadline of October 21 to raise the money by, and someone else has already put a bid in, but Leanne still thinks it’s doable.
“We want the whole village to get involved and all its tradespeople, from plumbers and gardeners to electricians and painters and anyone who just wants to lend a hand – to help us make The Red Lion a fun place again because it needs a little brightening up.
“But we have the passion and I’m ready, even if we have a battle on our hands. We just need people to come forward and help us because it’s a really exciting opportunity.”
But first she wants to see how much interest there is in the project. So come to Monday’s meeting and get involved. To contact Leanne you can message her on Facebook at Save The Red Lion Yarnton https://www.facebook.com/groups/228388816453832 or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/save_thelion/
“It’s such a great opportunity for Yarnton so we want to hear from anyone who is interested in helping us get this project off the ground and help us open The red Lion in Yarnton as a community pub,” Leanne adds.