Pub's oasis for smokers

PUBLISHED: 11:52 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:59 04 May 2010

Village inn licensee Claire Parsons in the new ‘smoking’ garden with some of the staff, from left, Fitz John-Baptiste, Andrew Newicke and Oliver Reed. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

Village inn licensee Claire Parsons in the new 'smoking' garden with some of the staff, from left, Fitz John-Baptiste, Andrew Newicke and Oliver Reed. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

WITCHFORD pub customers have joined forces to design a garden in advance of next year s proposed smoking ban. Five smokers, ranging from professional builders to engineers and a sailor, spent one month transforming the rear garden of the Village Inn in

WITCHFORD pub customers have joined forces to design a

garden in advance of next year's proposed smoking ban.

Five smokers, ranging from professional builders to engineers and a sailor, spent one month transforming the rear garden of the Village Inn in Main Street.

Sailor, Kev Atkins, buildings teacher, Andy Fostor, and engineers, Rob Plum, Simon Turpin and Andy Newick based their design around an orange blossom tree, with decking taking up two thirds of the space and gravel and foliage spread out along the edges.

They toiled on the garden before starting their regular jobs in the morning and after work in the evening - and refused to take payment.

Claire Parsons, licensee of the pub, said: "We were keen to move smoking out of the main bar area and, after discussing it with our customers, they very generously offered their services to make over our garden.

"They wouldn't take a penny for their work and said they did it because the pub was their local and they loved it.

"Although it started as an idea to solve the smoking issue the garden has becoming a key feature in its own right and it looks stunning. We're now getting customers visiting for the garden alone.

"I can't thank everyone enough for the effort they've put in and the

suppliers who gave us discounted products to help lower the cost.

"Everyone recognised that this would benefit all of us and we've created a tranquil oasis in the middle of Witchford."

As Kev is away on board ship at the moment and due to return home for Christmas, Claire is planning a special festive party to thank the five customers for their efforts.

The pub is owned by Punch Taverns and its business relationship manager, Ron Peters, said: "Pubs should act as the central focus point for their local area and this is an excellent example that the community spirit is well and truly alive.

"As a company we have taken voluntary action to reduce levels of smoking in our pubs and we'd applaud any of our licensees who used the same initiative as Claire and her customers.

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