$600K - we’ll drink to that!

By James Arbuthnott

It’s official: don’t get between Lockington and its local.

In a fairy-tale ending to the story of a town in dire circumstances, Lockington refused to go down without a fight — and beer — after accountants tallied around $600,000 from 110 pledges last week to save the famous hotel from closing its doors.

With it set to become the Lockington Hotel Community Co-op, board chairman Terry Malone and his friends couldn’t be happier with their proud town’s efforts.

“There’s a real buzz around town at the moment and it shows this really can work,” Mr Malone said.

“The hotel would have closed down if we hadn’t done it.

“Even the Campaspe town crier Judy Campbell was spruiking it down the main street.”

It all started when five friends put their heads together to save their local meeting place after current owner Al Macdermid said he must retire due to deteriorating health.

And he’s left it in good hands — his patrons'.

The five buyers planned a town meeting to save the two-and-a-half ha property in August, looking for expressions of interest.

Word got out and more than 100 people travelled from far and wide to the meeting, astounding its organisers.

One patron toasting the co-op is fellow board member Sue Eade, who says the recipe for Lockington’s success is its community spirit.

“We have a proud heritage and a number of pledgers who no longer live in Lockington but still believe in their little town — they haven’t forgotten about it,” Ms Eade said.

Built in 1947, the Lockington Hotel has faced similar circumstances before but has always landed on its feet.

“There’s some legal stuff we need to get out of the way but we plan to have the handover done by Christmas,” Mr Malone said.

“If the doors are always open then that’s a priority.”

And there’s word Lockington’s story of survival has spread to another town, which hopes to do the same.

But the fight to save the Lockington Hotel isn't quite won yet, with the board relying on all involved to fulfil their promises.

“The money is still flowing in and the board is taking more pledges, but we're hoping people will honour their pledges,” Mr Malone said.

“Because until all the money's in the bank we can't get too ahead of ourselves.”

The board of directors plans to renovate the hotel's 13-room accommodation facilities and much more, if the money comes through.

“Now we have the opportunity to make this work — this was a crucial and important step,” Mr Weller said.

“We plan on not letting the community down and we want to deliver a pub that people will come back to."

If you would like to be part of Lockington's historic fight to save its local, call board president Terry Malone on 0428 814 790.