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Stradbroke community rallies to support couple after purchase of Ivy House pub falls through




The would-be owners of a Suffolk pub have spoken of the incredible support they have received from fellow villagers after their purchase fell through.

Emma Bowman and Mike Lickfold ended the lease on their former business, Poppies and Daisies Tea Room, at the end of last month – after agreeing terms to take over The Ivy House pub in Wilby Road, Stradbroke.

But the couple were left in the cold after the pub’s owners decided to pull out of the deal – prompting residents in the village to set up a fundraising page to help them get back on their feet.

Emma Bowman and Mike Lickfold, with Emma's children Poppy and Daisy. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Emma Bowman and Mike Lickfold, with Emma's children Poppy and Daisy. Picture by Mecha Morton.

The pub has been listed for sale since way back in June of 2019, with an asking price of around £360,000 – after the current landlords decided to retire.

Ms Bowman, 37, and Mr Lickfold, 59, who moved to the village two years ago from Blythburgh, had agreed terms to take over the Ivy House last month – and came to an agreement that they would begin refurbishing, moving in and working at the pub from July 1.

Despite a successful opening week, the landlords had a sudden change of heart, pulling out of the deal just four days later and leaving the couple in a “nightmare” scenario – having invested precious time and money into the pub and unable to return to their former premises in Church Street.

The Ivy House pub has been on the market for more than two years now. Credit: Google. (49024243)
The Ivy House pub has been on the market for more than two years now. Credit: Google. (49024243)

“We put everything into the pub,” said Ms Bowman. “It was a nightmare – everything has turned on its head and we had no money left.”

To their surprise, members of the community have rallied behind the couple, taking care of their two children – Poppy, 10, and Daisy, nine – as they moved, and offering storage space to keep their stock and other equipment.

“It’s just incredible,” said Ms Bowman, who used to work as a cleaner at a glamping site.

“We had people turning up to help out how ever they could, and people from Stradbroke High School saying we could store our food in their fridges.

“It’s just unreal, and shows what an incredible community this is.”

Three Stradbroke residents, Gemma Richards, and Kamila and Andrian Kosla, even set up a fundraising page on justgiving.com, which has already amassed more than £1,300.

In a Facebook post, Ms Bowman and Mr Lickfold added: “We would like to acknowledge the outpouring of support, love, kindness and, above all, community spirit during this extremely turbulent time.

“We can never put into words what it means to us as a family to feel so appreciated in the village and surrounding areas.

“To those of you who have shown you are there, just with a hug or a reassuring squeeze of the hand when we were at our lowest.

“And to those individuals who set up a fundraising page so we are able to pay outstanding bills from the weekend, and our wonderful team of staff who worked so unbelievably hard for the few days we operated.”

The pair are now planning to give back to the community for their charitable efforts – making use of their leftover pizza topping stock by offering a slice of pizza to villagers on Saturday.

To donate to Ms Bowman and Mr Lickfold’s fundraiser, click here.

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