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Community rallies to rescue Dylan Thomas pub from closure

A rural Welsh community has come together to save one of Dylan Thomas’ favourite pubs from closure.

People living in the small village of Ystrad Aeron, near Felinfach, Ceredigion, are trying to raise £330,000 to buy and reopen their local, the Vale of Aeron, as a community enterprise.

The pub, also known in Welsh as Tafarn Dyffryn Aeron, was a favourite haunt of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin when they lived in nearby Talsarn in the early 1940s.

It is said the couple would walk across the fields from their home at Plas y Gelli to the pub where they “enjoyed the beer and talk”.

It is now a stop on the Dylan Thomas Trail, which is popular with tourists.

The Vale of Aeron closed in September after a long-term lease had come to an end.

L-R: Janice Thomas, Lowri Jones, Keith Henson, Iwan Thomas, Hywel Ifans

Residents from across the Aeron Valley formed a group called Menter Tafarn y Vale to buy the building and re-open it as a community owned pub and co-operative.

They opened a share offer in November to raise the money required and had more than £41,000 pledged in the first couple of days alone.

Offers have come in from across the UK, including from as far afield as Cornwall, Manchester and London.

Now they are appealing to individuals, businesses and organisations for a final push to help them reach their total by December 12.

Whoever buys shares becomes a member of the society and will have a say in how it runs. Each member has one vote, no matter how many shares they buy. Shares cost £1, with a minimum shareholding of £200 and a maximum of £30,000.

Iwan Thomas, secretary of the group, said: “One by one all the local pubs have closed and until recently this was the only one left in this part of the Aeron Valley.

“It was well used by the community as a gathering place for social groups from all the neighbouring villages, such as the football club and the young farmers club.

“We don’t want to reopen it as just a pub. We want it to become a community asset and an informal home for some of our local groups and societies.”

Menter Tafarn y Vale will also work to improve facilities at the pub, including access and toilets, as well as to reduce its carbon footprint by upgrading its insulation and installing a heat pump.

The group have received support and advice from the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Community Shares Wales Resilience Project.

Claudia Limpert, Project Manager of the Community Shares Wales Resilience Project said: “Taking ownership of The Vale of Aeron via a community share offer is a fantastic way to not only save this important landmark, but to put the control of the pub’s future into the hands of the people that is means the most to.”