VILLAGERS who have lost two of their locals to housing developers are fighting to save the last pub standing.

Greene King is set to sell The Three Horseshoes in Garsington, near Oxford - the village's only surviving pub - and residents have just weeks to raise a target of £500,000.

They succeeded earlier this year in getting it listed as an asset of community value, meaning owners have to give six months to allow locals the chance to bid for it.

Garsington Community Benefit Society Ltd. has since been founded for that purpose, and yesterday a two-week share offer launched for investors to step forward.

Janet Bolam, a Garsington resident of 36 years, is one of six people on the project's management committee.

She said: "We want to make the pub into the heart of the village.

"Our village needs somewhere that gets everyone excited, and somewhere people can meet up."

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Mrs Bolam said the pub had changed hands regularly in recent times, adding: "Over the last few years it's not been thriving. We knew things weren't going well.

"We know what locals want, we've sent out lots of questionnaires and there was a big range of feedback."

She said it will be a 'challenge' but was confident that it could be a success.

In April Greene King put the pub's freehold on the market for £360,000, so residents want to raise this amount plus extra for surveys, legal fees and refurbishment.

Supporters have until October 7 to invest cash and become shareholders, and a bid will then be put forward if enough money is raised.

The six-month period ends on October 23, after which Greene King will be free to sell the pub to anyone.

A £2,500 bursary and business advice has already been granted by More than a Pub, a programme founded by the Woodstock-based Plunkett Foundation in partnership with others, including the Campaign for Real Ale.

James Alcock, the executive director at Plunkett, said: "We’re so pleased to be able to support the Save the Three Horseshoes campaign, who are working hard to make sure their community can benefit from everything that having a thriving local pub brings.

"Pubs that are owned and run by the community are so much more than a place to buy a drink - they provide important social spaces and services for local people, and are central to their community’s sense of place and identity."

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Chris Wright, chairman of Garsington Parish Council, said he was 'delighted' to have the support of More Than a Pub.

The Red Lion in Garsington shut in 2013 while the Plough closed in 2010, and both have since become housing.

Asked what it would mean to have no pub left, mother-of-two Mrs Bolam said: "It would be like someone had turned the lights off in the village.

"We have a thriving village hall, clubs and sports, but we need somewhere we can just drop in."

If villagers gain ownership, they plan to lease the pub to an experienced tenant, who can help to make their vision become reality.

Information released to current and prospective shareholders said: "The atmosphere will be consistently relaxed, welcoming and warm, but also fun.

"All will be welcome - muddy dogs, tired children, wet walkers and sweaty cyclists included."

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They want to make the pub a welcoming facility, be it for weekend brunch, coffee and cake during the daytime, a casual drink or a dinner destination.

Fresh ingredients will be used to make tasty, good-value food, while the bar will support local breweries and stock real ales.

Anyone who wants a community share has to invest £250 or more, and more than 150 people have already pledged to buy in.

More information will be available at a drop-in event at Garsington Village Hall on Saturday, between 11am and 1pm, or via

Several community pubs have opened in Oxfordshire in the last few years, including The Abingdon Arms in Beckley, Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon and The Bull in Great Milton.