Residents in Flackwell Heath have described the sudden closure of three pubs in their village as ‘terrible news’ as two members of staff launch a campaign to take ownership.

Emma Jamieson, 35, manager of The Stag on Heath End Road, told the Free Press this week that she and head chef Charlie Himi were fighting to take over the pub, alongside another in the village, after their landlord announced immediate-effect closures of both sites, alongside The Three Horseshoes, at the beginning of May.

The pair said they were left “devastated” by the news, feelings that intensified after a financial spanner was thrown into their plans to take over The Stag and The Green Dragon last Friday (May 10).

Emma and Charlie are now stuck “in limbo” until outstanding costs are settled or until they can raise £20,000 – an intimidating prospect that has not deterred the thirty-somethings from continuing to pursue their goal of saving the two important “community hubs” from disappearing. 

Regular customers in the Flackwell Heath area showed their support for the idea after Emma announced the pub’s temporary closure on Facebook, with many also expressing sadness at the closure news and remembering their good times at The Stag under the 35-year-old’s helm.

Commenting on the post, Katherine Butterfield-Watts wrote: “Fingers crossed for you all. The Stag was the first pub we came to when we moved back 15 years ago, and we have had several lovely lunches and dinners since". 

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Nellie Ann added: “(It) must be awful for all staff at (such) short notice, I hope you’re able to reopen and bring back some (of the) happiness people enjoyed there”.

And Becky Beckton said: “This is terrible news for the staff and village. It was never a good idea for one person to have the majority of sites, and this is the sad fallout". 

Kate McCarthy also said she was “so sorry” to read of the pub’s closure, adding: “We moved to the area a couple of years ago and have loved coming to The Stag. The staff are amazing, the Sunday roasts are one of the best, (There is a) great garden and it’s dog friendly. Fingers crossed you can come to an agreement and reopen”.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Potter described the news as “an absolute shame”, writing: “This is so sad. What a wonderful place to meet friends, run by amazing people”.

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Speaking earlier this week, Emma said: “I’ve worked here for seven years, and the pub and community are so close to my heart. We call ourselves a dysfunctional family and we’re so passionate about giving something to people in the area.

“For some of our regulars, coming to us is the only time they go out. One of them cried her eyes out after she heard we were closing – she said, ‘This is all I have, I don’t know what to do’.

“The important thing is to protect these places, that are so loved by the people that go to them.”

Click here to donate to a GoFundMe page set up by Emma and Charlie to help cover costs associated with ownership of the two pubs.