The Chequers Inn
Charles & Tracey Leaver. The Chequers Inn, Laddingford
"Community" has been the heart of The Chequers for the past 22 years since we became landlords. Building from a poor reputation The Chequers has been the centre of the small village community of no more than 250 people from providing assistance to those flooded on Christmas day, to supporting the local residents and clubs.
A friendship club meets every Wednesday since establishing themselves with us 21 years ago and there's been several weddings from the group. Establishing sporting groups from our customers led to the cyclists, "The Chequers Racers", raising over £36,000 for Kent Cancer. They now continue cycling and formed firm friendships. There are also running clubs, The Chequers Chasers and The Chequers Otters who swim open water.
We've held the village flower and veg show for 21 years and it is one of the highlights in the year with all proceeds going to the primary school. The Christmas fayre, carols and switching on of lights are at The Chequers. There's been many years of conker, marrow and pumpkin comps, craft groups and charity events as well as hosting parish events such as the developing Neighbourhood Plan where The Chequers plays the focal point of future developments for the village. The real ale festival was one of the first in the south. Now in it's 20th year, the villagers have friends and family booked in to stay each year.
We support the local organisations and clubs with fundraising help and sponsorship especially the local school which was threatened with closure several years ago. Petitioning and getting the local MP involved was spearheaded through the Chequers resulting in the school remaining open. Partnering with the school enhances the community with the school Christmas fayre at the pub and us building a special grotto for them.
The village was totally cut off in floods on Christmas day and we checked on the estate of old people opposite to make sure they had food and they could contact their families. We were the refuge centre and left our number for their families to contact us if they were worried and we then went to visit them.
We employ many of the youngsters for part time jobs and we have a waiting list for positions. They never leave The Chequers family and some are currently back doing sessions at 30 yrs old. Now they have families, having started as 14/15 year olds! We help a local customer who is very ill to the doctors and hospital when his family isn't able to and contact his family if he is taken ill.
Since the flooding The Chequers is actively involved in representing the village and working with the Parish council to secure funding for additional flood defences. The Chequers is also central to the Parish Neighbourhood plan, co-ordinating the participation of villagers in the development of the plan. This is vital for the ongoing and future of the village and it's inhabitants.
We give free use of the marquee to the local junior football team so that they are able to hold a presentation afternoon.
We help with the upkeep and administration of the church hall by participating on the Committee and liaising with the diocese.
We let the school PTA use the marquee free for their Father's Day Breakfast - the fathers felt a bit naughty being in the pub at 8am!
We provide a water station in the village at the local half marathon. Many of the villagers volunteer to help us give water out to the runners and the organisers have told us they have a lot of feedback from the runners saying our station is the best on the course. We set up music and flags and give plenty of support.
We organise and support the Parish events from the Jubilee celebrations to the Millennium with
If we won an award, firstly we would organise to be able to offer IT training and computer for use by the elderly who do not have access to it currently. Also perhaps partner with a local IT firm based in the village to provide a central village IT unit that could be used at specific times and perhaps combine this with a social coffee morning for those that wanted to attend.
We would also organise a personal safety course free for any villagers that wanted to attend. We did this many years ago through the Lamplugh Trust which was very well received. It was particularly aimed at women but it would be broaden for everyone particularly in a rural community.
Part of the funds would be used to see if an area of land could be rented to enable a classic vehicle meeting could be held. There is no-where with sufficient room in the centre of the village and this would provide an enjoyable event for everyone.
Lastly we would use some of the funds to enhance the village flower bed that we put in the village with the sponsorship of a local landowner for the Millennium. After 16 years it is in need of updating and being made a better structure using some machinery etc which cannot be funded by the Parish Council. As it’s in the middle of the village it would be nice to make it a more attractive feature for both the villagers and those passing through the village.