“Local hero” set to reopen historic Peak District pub this week after overwhelming support from community

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A “local hero” will help relaunch a Peak District pub later this week – having been chosen by members of the community.

The Ashford Arms, a historic 17th century country pub in Ashford-in-the-Water, will be officially reopened by local hero and Bakewell Mayor, Alyson Hill, on Friday, March 8.

Alyson was chosen to cut the ribbon at The Ashford Arms following a Derbyshire-wide survey. Rob Hattersley, owner of independent hospitality business, Longbow Bars & Restaurants, said: “The Ashford Arms has been an integral part of the local community for the past 400 years.

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“We wanted to celebrate that, and the fact that it is opening its doors for the first time since the pandemic, by inviting someone that represents everything that we love about the area to help us reopen the pub.

Alyson Hill will reopen the Ashford Arms on March 8.Alyson Hill will reopen the Ashford Arms on March 8.
Alyson Hill will reopen the Ashford Arms on March 8.

“Rather than approaching someone ourselves, we decided to ask the public. We published a Facebook post asking people who they thought was a true local hero, and we were blown away by the response. Almost 100 suggestions were put forward, with lots of very worthy individuals amongst them. However, Alyson’s name came up time and time again, and we’re delighted that she has accepted.

“We can’t wait for her to join us to reopen this very special pub.”

Several reasons were given by those that nominated Alyson, including the fact that she puts her all into her position as Bakewell Mayor - and is so visibly passionate about representing and promoting the area.

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Others mentioned the life-changing accident that she had in March 2023, during her position as Watch Manager with the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service. Despite her injuries, she hasn’t allowed it to slow her down or dampen her enthusiasm.

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The venue has undergone a multi-million pound revamp.The venue has undergone a multi-million pound revamp.
The venue has undergone a multi-million pound revamp.

Responding to her nomination as a local hero, Alyson said: “I don’t really see myself as a hero – that’s not how I would describe myself at all! However, I saw Rob’s kind invitation as a way to celebrate the lovely, tightly knit community that we’re all a part of.

“Like many of us, I’m very excited about the reopening of the historic The Ashford Arms. It’s going to be a great asset to the local area, and I can’t wait to share a few drinks, laughs, and stories with friends here in the years to come.

“I would like to thank the people who nominated me for their kind words – and also recognise everyone else that was suggested as a local hero. They are all truly inspirational and a credit to our community.”

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Despite thriving for around 400 years, The Ashford Arms couldn’t survive the pandemic and was forced to close its doors in 2020. Rob took on the lease in 2023 and has brought it back to life with an extensive £1.6 million refurbishment.

The ground floor, nine hotel bedrooms, gardens and kitchen are in the final stages of a complete transformation. Its distinctive features, including its symmetrical limestone exterior, have been carefully repaired and preserved.

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The restaurant has been turned into a warm, welcoming space, with beautiful design finishes that nod to the history of the building. It will cater for 107 diners with executive chef Adrian Gagea, who was trained by Raymond Blanc, designing the menu. Multi-award-winning chef, Chris Parker, will also be stepping up as head chef.

The Ashford Arms will be fully open to the public from March 9 (8.00am to 11.00pm, Monday to Sunday). Bookings can be made now here.