A COMMUNITY pub has beaten off national competition to be recognised as one of the top community-owned businesses in the county.

The Exelby Green Dragon has won the Diversifying to Make a Difference Award from national charity the Plunkett Foundation.

The award, sponsored by BCRS Business Loans, celebrates a business which has diversified what they do and what they provide for the benefit of local people.

The recognition at Plunkett’s 2019 Rural Community Business Awards comes after efforts by the local community to save the Green Dragon from closure. The pub closed in April 2018 and – with support from the Plunkett Foundation – villagers formed a community benefit society and tabled an offer to purchase it for themselves. The community business has since broadened its services to become a diverse community hub, featuring everything from a gardening club and deli to affordable housing and plans for electric car charging points.

Tom Baker, landlord of the Exelby Green Dragon, said: “We’re over the moon to receive such a great award and we just love putting things on and it is great for the community. We love being the hub and everyone comes and has a really good time.”

The Plunkett Foundation supports rural communities across the UK to tackle the issues they face through community business.

James Alcock, chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “The Exelby Green Dragon has an extraordinary story to tell – it is a story of overcoming the challenges they faced in order to not just save their local pub, but to survive and thrive as a community business offering an impressive and increasingly diverse range of services. They are very worthy recipients of the Diversifying to Make a Difference Award and they will be an inspiration to others across the country. I’m delighted to be able to celebrate their continued success with this award.” 21 community businesses were shortlisted for the 2019 Rural Community Business Awards. Finalists ranged from farms and pubs to cafés, shops and a woodland.