VILLAGERS are seeking to raise £500,000 in order to purchase and reopen their local pub in a campaign being backed by celebrity Ulrika Jonsson.

The Crown pub in South Moreton, near Didcot, was a popular local hosting quiz nights and barbecues until it closed in 2015 when it was sold to Worthmore Properties Ltd for £340,000.

But the developer’s plans to turn the site into housing were scuppered after villagers won a court battle to have it listed as an asset of community value last year.

The listing meant the developers were unlikely to get planning permission to change the use of the pub and it was listed for sale in October. A fundraising campaign has now been launched to raise money to buy it.

Because it is an 'asset of community value', the campaigners have been given first refusal on purchasing it but only have until April to raise the money and make a business case.

Last Saturday more than 200 people met at Hall Farm to discuss purchasing the pub and turning it in to a ‘community hub’ with facilities such as a meeting space, cafe, shop and parcel drop-off point.

Shares in the pub, priced at £50 each, will be available to purchase, with potential investors asked to buy a minimum of five each.

Ms Jonsson, who lives nearby, said: “I firmly believe in the importance of keeping local community venues open, especially in rural villages like South Moreton.

“This meeting was obviously a tremendous success.

"The number of local people attending, showing their enthusiasm and commitment, and sharing a wonderful social event together was truly heart-warming.”

The Celebrity Masterchef finalist added she was keen to advise on the new menu.

Villagers have established the South Moreton Community Benefit Society and sought support from the Plunkett Foundation who has assisted many rural communities to set up and run their own pubs.

Campaigner Paul Jackson said: “We need to build a strong base of community shareholders and donors to make the project fly. All contributions are definitely welcome.”

To get involved, email