The owner of a North Devon village pub has hailed the community spirit which helped them recover from flood damage and reopen.
The Jack Russell in Swimbridge has fully reopened less than eight months after flash floods in the village forced it to close.
As heavy rain on January 21 caused widespread flooding to communities across North Devon, the pub in Swimbridge – the lowest point in the village – took in three feet of water.
With the help of local tradesmen and support from loyal customers, owners Paul and Melissa Darch have been able to start pulling pints again much sooner than they thought.
“For us, it’s been a long year of not being able to do anything,” said Paul, who has owned the pub for 12 years.
“It happened, there’s nothing we could have done and we have got to deal with it, but with the support in the community, the work people have done and the customers who have supported us throughout, they’ve made it much more straightforward.
“Every wall and floor surface and every bit of furniture was a write-off – everything was water-damaged.
“With the insurance they wanted it to go through tender but we wanted local tradesmen to do the work, so it was builders from the village and Landkey and people who have drank in the pub.
“It’s all been local traders who have helped out and the regulars chipped in with the floor laying.
“They took a weekend out to help lay the slate floor for us. Without them we wouldn’t be open now because we’re still fighting with the insurance.”
The pub has been able to keep up custom through the summer through its games room outbuilding, with the World Cup and the heatwave in June and July helping the drinks flow. An official reopening party was also well attended.
Paul and Melissa were enjoying a holiday when the flooding hit, and found out about the flooding in the village after checking social media.
Paul, 37, said the damage was worse than he initially thought when he returned home.
“We thought we could come back and give it a clean, get some new furniture and reopen again in a couple of weeks, but unfortunately it was a little bit more severe than we thought it would be,” he said.