Posted by David Oates 2 years, 6 months ago

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Hundon is about a 30 or so minute drive west of Cambridge, England with no traffic. The village is nestled amongst a fabric of 17th Century cottages alongside some well designed and cared for homes built in the 1960s and 1970s. Old and new, the neighborhood keeps its ties to the past by maintaining its yards and exterior facades in conformance with those who lived there before. Hundon also possesses an eclectic mix of neighbors ranging from young families with early school-age kids to semi-retirees who migrated from more urban areas when their work lives slowed down. There is also the quintessential local handyman whose abode consists of a modest, though kept up, trailer stationed permanently in a car park.

My wife and I were invited to stay in this neighborhood by Ken and Sue, whom we consider ourselves fortunate to have met two years ago as they and another couple were on vacation in Oban, Scotland the same time we were. The chance meeting turned into a solid friendship that was rekindled with a recent three day visit. Part of that included two trips to the Rose and Crown, the local pub run by husband and wife team Helen and Bally, who live upstairs. The cask ales and homemade fish and chips were only outdone by the throngs of neighbors who greeted us warmly when we were introduced. This establishment is the place where the township people routinely gather to catch up on the news of the village in “Bullshit Corner,” a portion of the bar where facts rarely get in the way of a good story. Children are encouraged to play in the opposite section of the pub that was filled with kid games and books; the concept created by the proprietors as they saw an opportunity to meet the needs of their patrons. Few of the folks we struck up conversations actually grew up in Hundon, though one or two were born and raised not too far away. Nevertheless, the village is considered by all to be a long-standing treasure for which they are its current caretakers.

The residents even goes so far as to ensure that everyone pitches in during trying times. During the most recent recession, Ken made up flyers and distributed them among the villagers to get folks out to the Rose and Crown, which saw its fortunes plummet as everyone cut back on their spending. His call to action - “Use It OR Lose It!”. Doing so served multiple purposes, he said. For starters, the pub was the center of activity for many who wanted an efficient way to keep up with their neighbors. Ken also argued that having the pub that served quality, homemade meals and puddings also helped raise the property values in town. But there was something else to it - the proprietors, Hellen and Bally, were their neighbors - and neighbors, he said, must stick together. Today, the pub is thriving and now receives the occasional visits from “Randoms” - those from neighboring townships who’ve heard about the Rose and Crown and want to see what all the fuss is about.

As we ventured off for the rest of our trip to York and Scotland, I took away a keen observation; a brand is only as strong as those stakeholders who believe in it. This is true for a big global conglomerate, a new technology upstart or a pub tucked away in a several hundred-year-old village in Great Britain’s East Anglia. Regardless, the good ones have a strong, loyal following.

 

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