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#126: PUBS OF CUMBRIA: When communities save their pubs which, standing in for Mark and Dave, BBC Cumbria's Nick Brownlee takes a seat at the bar to discuss the highs, lows and daily realities of operating a community pub. In a hospitality sector beset by staff shortages, rising costs and closures, Cumbria is home to a handful of thriving pubs that have been acquired by their communities. Nick speaks with Phil Sweetland from the Mardale Inn, Bampton, and Grizedale Arts CEO Adam Sutherland from the Farmer's Arms, Lowick, about each pub's journey – from abandonment by big breweries, through community fundraising to reopening. They discuss the importance of pubs to rural communities; the value of activities that interact with the pub; the merits of organic growth as a community business finds its feet; and the "hard graft" management models that ensure sustainable growth. Finally, Adam and Phil namecheck their favourite Cumbrian hostelries – with shout outs to the Kirkstile Inn, The Queen's Head, The Blacksmith's Arms, The Butchers Arms and the ODG – and consider the question: what makes the perfect pub?

The Mardale Inn, Bampton.

Our guests for the day: Adam Sutherland, left, and Phil Sweetland, right.

The Farmer's Arms, Lowick.

(Re)opening day at the Mardale Inn.

A few minutes before opening... Fixing that sign...


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