Sisters bring pub back to life

Sisters Jo and Sarah with NatWest relationship manager Addy Ashton
Sisters Jo and Sarah with NatWest relationship manager Addy Ashton

Two entrepreneurial sisters have brought a 200-year-old Heath and Reach pub back to life, with the help of a commercial mortgage from their bank.

Jo Carter and Sarah Smith have purchased the freehold for their pub, restaurant and B&B, The Dukes, after securing £455,000 of funding from NatWest.

The pair first became aware of the venue when they attended a christening party at what was then a Thai restaurant. The restaurant closed in 2014 and was lying derelict before the sisters took on the task of bringing the Grade II-listed building back to life.

Using their own capital to fully refurbish the building, they were helped by the local community who donated their time to help restore the 18th century former church. Since opening The Dukes in April 2016, the sisters have created jobs for nine local people and supported an apprentice.

Jo said: “It was Sarah’s idea to start the pub and when she asked me to get involved I immediately said yes.

“The whole village was excited at the re-opening of The Dukes and it was a great feeling to let them know we will be sticking around after purchasing the property.

“We invested a lot of our own time and money when we first took on the leasehold but now, thanks to NatWest, we’ve been able to secure the funding we need to actually own the whole building – making all the blood, sweat and tears worth it!”