A COMMUNITY-owned pub with strong military links is hosting a family-friendly festival to raise money for Help for Heroes during a celebration of the Tour de Yorkshire.

The Exelby Green Dragon, which is on the route of the world-class cycling event, is experiencing a new lease of life after locals in the hamlet near Bedale pulled together to secure its future.

Villagers purchased shares and that, together with a grant and a loan, enabled the pub to reopen last December. New tenants Tom and Becci Baker, originally from Wakefield, are hoping to make the venture a success by combining their experience of running busy city centre bars with North Yorkshire rural traditions.

One of these is the Exelby Extravaganza fun day to which they are introducing live outdoor music performances and a dog show to entertain crowds during its Tour de Yorkshire festivities between Friday, May 3, and Sunday, May 5.

For the first time, the women’s peloton will follow the same route as the men’s – both elite races will sprint through the picturesque village on Friday, May 3.

Mrs Baker, 29, said: “The pub has always had strong links with the Forces – the RAF Leeming air base is nearby, many veterans have settled in the village and our first member of staff’s husband served at Catterick Garrison.

“So when we found out that Help for Heroes was the official charity partner of the Tour de Yorkshire, it made perfect sense for us to raise money to help the Charity support veterans and wounded, injured and sick Serving personnel.”

As well as a refurbished bar and dining area, the Exelby Green Dragon is now home to two gardening clubs, the Dragons Women’s group, a folk club and a weekly craft session where more than 15 local women are making bunting to ensure the pub looks its best during the Tour de Yorkshire weekend.

Rob Colgrave, Help for Heroes Area Fundraising Manager, North-East and Scotland, said:

“We know from previous years how effective the Tour de Yorkshire is in bringing local communities together in an atmosphere of celebration. To then turn that festival spirit into a means of raising money is a brilliant idea and we can’t thank the Exelby Green Dragon for choosing Help for Heroes."