Save The Silks – Invest in Your Community

We are the Ogbourne Community Pub Society.... otherwise known as OCtyPuS.

We are a group of residents passionate about retaining a pub in our community. As well as somewhere that offers good food and drink in a friendly atmosphere, we want to make the Silks the focus for community activity.

Our local community has been given the opportunity to buy and run The Silks on the Downs as a community pub, owned by and run for the benefit of the community.

This is our one and only chance to retain a pub in our community - and we need your help.

You have told us that you want a pub that is:

A high quality, local, dining experience that appeals to both the wider area and the needs of the local community
A central hub for community activities such as daytime coffee shop, clubs, activities and charitable events
A Gateway for visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Marlborough Downs on foot, on horse or on bicycle
Owned by the community
Run by the community
For the community

Buy Community Shares
Save The Silks

Our local community has been given the opportunity to buy and run The Silks on the Downs as a community pub, owned by and run for the benefit of the community.

The Silks on the Downs pub in Ogbourne St Andrew has been bringing our community together for over 100 years. It has long provided a place for families and friends to come together and enjoy great food, drink and company.

In 2020, the landlord approached the Parish Council to see if there was any interest to buy the freehold and manage The Silks as a community run pub. As a result, a group of passionate local volunteers formed the Ogbourne Community Pub Society (OCtyPuS) to establish a financially and commercially sound community pub, providing a high-quality local dining and drinking experience as well as a central hub for community engagement, services and benefits. A copy of the society rules are available here

Pub footpath sign

Over the past 6 months, we have carefully evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of The Silks and its ability to meet our purpose. Our projections show that we believe we can establish and operate it as a successful business for the benefit of the community.

We need you left

But we cannot do this alone.
We need your help to save our Pub

We need you right
We need you centre

But we cannot do this alone.
We need your help to save our Pub

That is why we are inviting you to invest in your community by purchasing Community Shares in Ogbourne Community Pub Society Ltd and become a part owner of the pub, ensuring we protect the many community benefits for generations to come. The opportunity we have goes well beyond the bricks and mortar of the pub. We strongly believe that this is an exciting opportunity to run a commercially successful business, powered by our membership, that will provide a central hub for the social and support needs of the community.

Atmospheric sunset over the downs

Communities that come together to form a society are proving increasingly popular and successful in providing the required support to make ventures such as these succeed. The benefits of a community owned pub include creating local employment, injecting money into the local economy, providing a hospitality venue and information point for community groups, tourists, walkers, cyclists and passers-by, as well as helping to sustain local property prices. We will offer a wide range of additional services that will provide a valuable lifeline to the community, including space for clubs and societies, a social hub for those experiencing isolation and loneliness, and volunteering opportunities.

The share offer runs from the 10th February and has been extended until the 31st July. However investments made before the 31st March may be eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (see FAQs and Share Offer Document for more details)

Championing the great outdoors

The Ogbourne community is our home and we are lucky enough to call the Marlborough Downs our back garden.

The last year has made us increasingly aware of the benefits that exercise brings to our physical and mental health, and the wellbeing of our community is at the heart of this opportunity.

Our ambition is to encourage more people to connect with our stunning landscape by making The Silks a Visitors' Gateway to the Marlborough Downs, utilising the many outdoor activities that our public footpaths, bridleways, national trails and cycle routes provide.

Children cycling down Railway Path

To do this, we need your support.

We are offering you the opportunity to invest in your community by purchasing Community Shares and becoming a member of Ogbourne Community Pub Society Ltd. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, then please contact us at ObscureMyEmail.

Our share offer has been awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark.

The Community Shares Standard Mark is awarded by the Community Shares Unit to offers that meet national standards of good practice. For more information about community shares, the Community Shares Standard Mark and the Community Shares Unit go to:

Community shares standard logo

If you are as excited as we are about this opportunity, please download the full share offer document for more information. The application process for shares is now open.

Our share offer is now closed - thank you to everyone that invested.

You can download the share offer document below for information but please note that we are not accepting any more applications at this time.

Please note that if you are transferring funds via online banking rather than cheque, ‘Confirmation of Payee’ is not offered by our bank (Unity Trust) so it will show up as ‘unable to match’ or similar.  Initially, only the 6 big banks had to offer this facility although most banks are introducing it over time. Please check the details when you pay and we will confirm receipt using the details you provide on the application form.

Watch our Town Hall meeting

Frequently asked questions

Questions about us, the pub and what we are trying to do
Who are we ?

The Ogbourne Community Pub Society Ltd is a Community Benefit Society (CBS) registered with The Financial Conduct Authority, Registration No. 8552. The Society was formed with the purpose of establishing a commercially sound community pub. A copy of the society rules are available here

  • Stuart Williamson, Chairperson
    Stuart Williamson

    Stuart Williamson

    Stuart has over 20 years’ experience as a strategic communications advisor. Having started his career in London in 2009 he joined Nationwide Building Society where today he is the Society’s Director of Communications. Working for one of the World’s biggest member owned organisations, Stuart is a passionate advocate about the benefits this form of business ownership can bring to communities and members. Stuart moved to Ogbourne St Andrew in August 2020 with his young family; one of the reasons he chose village life was the central role that a vibrant pub can play in bringing communities together.

  • Simon Basford, Vice-Chairperson
    Simon Basford

    Simon Basford

    Simon has worked for Vodafone for 20 years and is currently the Country Lead for the UK and Ireland for their Consumer Internet of Things business area, having previously held multiple commercial roles both in the UK and globally. He brings a breadth and depth of commercial experience across marketing, sales, operations and is passionate about customer experience. Simon lives in Ogbourne Maizey with his wife and young son, having moved there 5 years ago. Prior to this they lived in Marlborough and visited The Silks many times over the past 10 years.

  • Jan Whitehead, Secretary
    Jan Whitehead

    Jan Whitehead

    Jan is a qualified teacher but has been working in private corporations for the past 28 years, including experience in administration and as a PA. For the last 21 years she has worked in the telecommunications sector as a Billing Manager and Change Manager. She is also Secretary to the Parochial Church Council of St Mary’s Church, Marlborough. Jan moved to Ogbourne St Andrew 2 years ago and was a regular customer of The Silks prior to its closure.

  • Dave Hughes, Treasurer
    Dave Hughes

    Dave Hughes

    An engineer by training, Dave qualified and then worked as an accountant for a number of years before moving into management consultancy. That was followed by a variety of director roles in corporate finance, strategy, sales, marketing, e-commerce and digital, for companies such as Marks & Spencer, GAME, Intercontinental Hotels, Brakes and Clarks. With a range of consulting clients and Non-Executive Director roles, Dave brings a wealth of strategy, finance and marketing experience to the Society and led the production of the financial aspects of the Business Plan. He has lived in Ogbourne St Andrew with his wife, Angela, for 14 years and they are long time patrons of The Silks, including catering for their wedding.

  • Steve Poulton
    Steve Poulton

    Steve Poulton

    Steve is a qualified chartered engineer but after a spell in management consultancy spent 30 years in commercial leadership positions. He brings many years’ senior experience in marketing, finance, strategy and corporate governance, gained both in the private and public sectors, and has led the production of the The Silks Business Plan. Prior to his retirement in 2019, he was European Vice-President of a global healthcare company and a Board Director of a major NHS hospital trust. Steve recently moved to Ogbourne Maizey and was a regular customer of The Silks until its closure.

  • Harriet Rochester
    Harriet Rochester

    Harriet Rochester

    Harriet is an award-winning senior project manager and public relations professional, specialising in horseracing. She has significant experience within diversity and inclusion and is passionate about ‘evangelising’ cultures within corporate, sporting and community sectors. She is also accomplished in creating and delivering projects that drive progression and influence mindsets. Harriet lives in Ogbourne Maizey and is passionate about horses, riding for local racehorse trainer Emma Lavelle, and has recently been involved with identifying and securing funding for a significant new project within horseracing. As well as keeping fit and active she loves being in the great outdoors, particularly on the Marlborough Downs.

  • Jerry Brown
    Jerry Brown

    Jerry Brown

    Jerry is a technical manager in a software sales business, having worked in technology and IT for the last 35 years. As a qualified engineer, Jerry brings a practical hands-on approach to the team along with the ability to build out plans and ideas to create successful outcomes to projects. He moved to Ogbourne St Andrew 10 years ago and has two young daughters in local schools. He is a parent governor at Ogbourne Primary School and takes an active interest in the school education system both locally and nationally.

  • Keith Hammond
    Keith Hammond

    Keith Hammond

    Keith is a qualified Civil Engineer who served 19 years in the British Army. In 2010 he set up Optima Group, a ‘Human Security’ company that provides Defence, Security and Criminal Justice services to governments, international organisations and commercial companies including the British Government, United Nations and EU Member States. As a Founder and CEO, Keith brings a considerable breadth of entrepreneur, management and commercial experience to the Society. He has lived in Ogbourne Maizey with his wife and two young children since 2012, enjoys running and mountain biking on the Downs, and was a frequent customer at The Silks both socially and for business meetings.

  • Mark Colbourne
    Mark Colbourne

    Mark Colbourne

    Mark is a Commissioned Officer in the British Army where he has served for over 20 years. His background in logistics has seen him hold a number of supply chain and transport focused posts in the UK, Germany, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Outside of his logistics specialisation he has instructed at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and worked at MoD London for the Chief of the General Staff in the area of International Policy. He currently works at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham teaching Military planning. Mark brings experience of leadership, strategy, people management and crisis management. A comparative newcomer to the village, he has lived in Ogbourne Maizey with his family for just under 2 years.

  • Matt France
    Matt France

    Matt France

    A Chartered Aviation Engineer, Matt has completed a full career in the military as an Aircraft Engineering Artificer. During his military service he deployed on serval operations around the world including Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan; he continues his military career as an Officer in the REME Reserves. Matt now works in the defence industry for QinetiQ, as a Project Engineer providing independent technical evaluation, integration and trials on various MOD aircraft. He will bring a healthy supply of ambition to the Society and with his experience in leadership and project management will drive forward the long-term success of the pub. A new resident to the Ogbourne St Andrew, Matt moved to the village in August 2020, he is keen to see a thriving community pub back in the village.

  • Julian Simon-Williams
    Matt France

    Julian Simon-Williams

    Julian’s professional career is built on nearly 20 years in the automotive industry, working in people development and sales leadership roles for a number of manufacturers. Prior to this he spent a number of years working alongside his father’s civil engineering company where he developed a taste for building and construction. Julian has since successfully re-developed a number of residential properties not only project managing them but also doing a lot of the skilled work himself. Julian is also no stranger to the pub sector, having worked for a large bar and restaurant group in Munich while on sabbatical between undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. He moved to Ogbourne Maizey in November 2018 with his partner, Lindsay. They enjoy walking, running and mountain biking in the wonderful countryside surrounding the Silks on the Downs.

What are the rules of the Ogbourne Community Benefit Society ?

A copy of the society rules are available here.

TThe rules are a standard set of rules set out by the Plunkett Foundation; a charitable organisation set up to support community businesses like ours. The rules stipulate how the society is constituted and how it is governed; covering things like its purpose, membership, management, reporting etc., A link to the Plunkett Foundation is available at the bottom of the page if you would like to know more.

What are we aiming to do ?

We are aiming to raise the funds necessary to purchase The Silks on the Downs and use it to provide a high-quality local dining and drinking experience as well as a central hub for community engagement, services and benefits. This includes making The Silks a Visitors' Gateway to the Marlborough Downs, utilising the many outdoor activities that our public footpaths, bridleways, national trails and cycle routes provide and to secure its long-term future for the benefit of the community. This Share Offer is aimed at residents of Ogbourne St Andrew and Ogbourne Maizey as well as the wider surrounding area who will become owners and beneficiaries of a thriving business.

How will we run this ?

The Society will be governed by a Management Committee, elected by a membership vote each year. The role of the Management Committee is to ensure that strategic governance, oversight, direction and guidance are provided across the Society, and specifically to the Operating Committee, in order to ensure the Society achieves its purpose.

The Operating Committee will be responsible for delivering all aspects of the business plan and the successful management of the pub’s key business functions at the operational level. The committee will comprise the Pub Manager, once recruited, volunteers and members of the Management Committee fulfilling various business roles as required.

Purchase of the minimum number of shares will confer membership of the Society, giving members control over the business through the annual election of a Management Committee and voting rights on significant issues at regular meetings. Societies are by law intended to be democratic organisations, with all members having an equal vote, regardless of the size of their shareholding.

What are the benefits of doing this ?

The residents and friends of Ogbourne St Andrew, Ogbourne Maizey and surrounding areas will benefit directly from having a vital village amenity preserved for future generations. The Silks will act not only as a location for great food and dining, but also as a central hub to support our community in making it stronger, more vibrant and cohesive in which to live.

In addition, it is our intent to pay interest to members at 3% per annum after Year 3 when the Society projects it will have sufficient sustainable income and reserves as described further in the offer. In addition applications and funds received before the 31 March may be eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief.

As a shareholder how will I be involved ?

All shareholders in a Community Benefit Society have a vote on key decisions regardless of how many shares they hold. In addition they can be elected to the Management Committee if they would like to be more directly involved and we will always need the help of volunteers to make this a success.

There will be regular opportunities to talk to the Management Commitee and we will hold an Annual Members' Meeting where accounts and reports will be presented along with key decisions requiring a vote.

We intend to produce a quarterly digital newsletter for all members of the Society that will update them on trading performance and plans, with a more detailed review at the half year. This will be key to maintaining engagement with our member community, where we can share ‘member offers’ for the upcoming quarter or ‘member evenings’.

Will we be paying a fair price for the Silks on the Downs ?

We are entering negotiations with the owner and believe that we can agree a fair price for the freehold

How will the pub be different ?

As it has done historically, the pub needs to continue to attract diners from outside the immediate village with a compelling 'gastro-pub' offer to succeed financially. However, we recognise that there are lots of opportunities to offer more 'pub grub' as well as tweaking the layout to encourage more casual drinkers from the immediate area. In addition, we aim to use the space during the day and quiet periods to offer more community benefits.

To reduce isolation and improve social connectivity we will be aiming to offer an informal day time coffee shop to encourage home workers, parents, pensioners, walkers, cyclists, in fact, anyone to drop in for a coffee and a chat. We will also explore whether we can offer a shop for day-to-day essentials, goods from local producers as well as a parcel pick up and drop off service.

We also aim to make the space more flexible so we can host community events such as clubs, live performances, sporting events and charity endeavours to continue to bring people together and bring value to our community.

We want to make The Silks a gateway to the beautiful Marlborough Downs for walkers, cyclists and horse riders so as well as suitable facilities such as bike racks, we aim to host a range of information to help people enjoy the beautiful countryside responsibly.

What sort of Community Benefits will we see?

There will be significant community benefit from re-opening a welcoming village pub where people can drop into for food, drink, music, and companionship. We will also deliver a range of community benefits::

Creating Healthy Places

We will encourage people to connect with local landscapes, benefitting physical and mental wellbeing, by providing recommended walking and cycling routes. We have connected with local walking, cycling and nature groups and together will create a calendar of group activities to encourage outdoor activities.

Celebrate our Local History and Heritage

The fascinating parish history will be told via a permanent photography exhibition created in partnership with the local history group. Regular events such as a history trail will be hosted for all ages (including schools and youth groups) to enjoy and connect with local landscapes.

Train Community First Responders

Our nearest defibrillator is two miles away. We will apply for a defibrillator to be installed and recruit and train a team of Community First Responders to respond to certain emergencies in the village.

Singing for Health

Singing as a group is therapeutic and inclusive. We will buy a keyboard and connect with a local pianist/singer to host regular sing-along nights. This will help us support parents and young children, as well as individuals and charities whose beneficiaries have dementia or memory problems such as Alzheimer’s Support “Music for the Mind” sessions.

Improved Accessibility for All

The pub will reduce rural isolation for all but particularly for those unable to leave the village through lack of transport. We will improve the pub layout and accessibility to meet the needs of people with a range of disabilities. This will also make the pub more open and welcoming at all times of day to encourage home workers, people by themselves and anyone feeling the need for human interaction to drop in for a coffee and a chat or to work in a busier environment

Can I volunteer in the pub ?

Of course!

We will always need volunteers to help out in the pub - particularly for the community focused activities.

We will also be looking for willing volunteers to help the get pub ready for re-opening. Many hands make light work!

If you are interested in volunteering, just send us a message, letting us know what skills you have or how you'd like to volunteer.

Why a Community Benefit Society ?

This is much more than 'just' re-opening the Silks. As well as great food and drink, we want to build this as a community hub offering facilities and services that benefit the community.

Community Benefit Societies were established specifically for this sort of enterprise designed to benefit the wider community as well as the members. It has some similarities with a Company (eg ability to offer shares, limited liability for members) but it also has differences (one member one vote, non-tradable shares that cannot increase in value, limits on financial returns, clearly articulated community objectives). The vast majority of community owned pubs have used this legal structure.

This is so much more than a pub.

Will there be fish and chips ?
Absolutely! and chicken, and prawns, and steak, and ice cream, and red wine, and vegetarian options, and beer, and cheese, and lager, and nuggets, and bread, and coffee, and cakes, and curry, and risotto, and chips, and wi-fi, and roast beef, and salads, and roast potatoes, and light bites, and sandwiches, and alcohol free drinks, and, and, and **we may struggle to offer all of this at the same time :-)
Questions about the share offer and fundraising generally
How will we raise the funds?

The aim of the share offer is to raise a minimum of £100,000 with a target of £240,000 and a maximum of £500,000.

We are looking to raise the total capital required through a combination of funding routes, including the share offer, grants, loans, donations and fundraising, to secure a bright new future for our community pub. The total raised will allow us to buy the freehold and then repair, refurbish and restock, as well as provide the initial working capital required to operate the pub.

Each share will cost £50 with a minimum investment of £200 (4 shares). The maximum individual investment will be £50,000 or 10% of the total value of share capital raised, if lower.

To be a member you must be 18 years or over. Corporate members are allowed if they support the interests of the Society and its purpose. The share issue launched on the 10th February 2021, and the application process is now open and will remain open until 31 May 2021 - now extended to 31st July 2021. Applications with funds received prior to and after 31 March 2021 will be logged separately as these may qualify for personal tax relief in different tax years. The Management Committee reserves the right to extend the closing date to 31 July 2021 if the required funding level has not been met (and indeed we have done).

When can I apply for shares?

The application process is now open and the share offer document including the application form is available to download from this website. You will need to return this, with payment, by 31 May - now extended to 31 July. To be potentially eligible for SITR tax relief, your application and payment will need to be received by 31 March.

Are these shares eligible for tax relief ?

Shares in Community Benefit Societies are potentially eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) provided they meet certain conditions. This scheme allows individual investors (not organisations or corporations) to recover up to 30% of the total value of their share purchase against personal income tax in the year in which the investment is made. If their total income tax liability in that year is less than 30% of their investment, then the tax relief is limited to the lower amount. To qualify for SITR no one member will be allowed to hold more than 30% of the total shares allocated.

We believe that our share offer complies with the conditions for SITR and as such have applied to HMRC for Advance Approval. It is important to note that approval is not guaranteed, and we will not know if we have been successful until we make the actual application early in 2022 after the pub has been trading for a number of months.

To be potentially eligible for SITR in 2020/21, the relevant share applications together with the funds must be received and logged by the Secretary by 31 March 2021. Provided we have reached the minimum target of £100,000, all applications received on or by 31 March will be treated as being received on 31 March by the Management Committee and membership will commence from this date.

Applications will continue to be received after 31 March up until the close of the offer on 31 May and these will be potentially eligible for SITR in 2021/22.

Can I pay in instalments ?

Members can apply to the Management Committee, who may allow the member to pay in tranches up to 30 June 2021. However only those shares for which payment has been received by 31 March would be potentially eligible for SITR. Members wishing to pay in instalments should make this known to the Secretary when submitting their application form.

What are the key dates for the share offer ?

The share issue launched on 10th February 2021, is open for applications and will remain open until 31 May 2021 - now extended to 31 July. Applications with funds received prior to and after 31 March 2021 will be logged separately as these may qualify for personal tax relief in different tax years. The Management Committee reserves the right to extend the closing date up to 31 July 2021 if the required funding level has not been met and indeed we have done.

Can I sell my shares ?

Community shares are withdrawable but cannot be transferred, sold or given to anyone else, except on your death or bankruptcy. You can tell us in advance who you wish to transfer your investment upon your death, and we can transfer the first £5,000 of your investment to them; any investment above £5,000 requires your beneficiary to be explicitly named in your will. If you do not nominate anyone, then the Management Committee will rely on the instructions given by your executors.

Community shares are a long-term investment in the community. To give the Society a chance to become established and to satisfy the conditions of Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), shareholders will be required to hold their share investment for the first three years. After that time, members will be allowed to request withdrawal of some or all their shares.

The rules of the Society give the Management Committee the power to decline a request to withdraw funds if it would endanger the viability of the Society. With the support of the community, it is anticipated the business will generate a financial surplus and allow managed withdrawals of shares from Year 4 (up to an annual limit decided by the Management Committee based on the viability of the business). If there are sufficient funds in any given year to allow them, the Management Committee will set a deadline for receipt of withdrawals.

Prior to Year 4, and each subsequent year, the Management Committee will stipulate the maximum amount of share capital that may be repaid in that year. This amount will take into account the long-term interests of the Society, the need to maintain prudent reserves and the Society’s commitment to community benefit and therefore could equate to zero. it will not be more than 10% of the Society’s total capital. If there are sufficient funds in any given year to allow them, the Management Committee will set a deadline for receipt of withdrawals, and all requests received in time will be honoured on a pro-rata basis (see share offer document for details). A copy of our Society rules is available here.

How much are you trying to raise ?

A figure of £500,000 will enable us to buy and renovate the pub without the need for any debt. The aim of the share offer is to raise a minimum of £100,000 with a target of £240,000 and a maximum of £500,000. If we raise less than the minimum target, we will stop the project at that point and return the funds.

The optimum target share offer figure of £240,000, represents a ‘solid’ figure which we think is achievable, but even this requires us to raise further funds in grants and loans to be able to buy and renovate the pub. Those loans could in turn reduce our ability to make payment to shareholders, so, we would like to do better than £240,000 and be less reliant on other sources.

What happens if you don't succeed ?

If we do not believe we can raise enough funds to buy, refurbish and open the pub, we will return the invested funds.

Can I invest on behalf of my children or buy shares and gift them to them ?

Our minimum age to invest is 18 and is set out in our Society rules. Whilst it is possible for children to hold shares in Community Benefit Societies, it would have required us to obtain expert legal advice and possibly draft additional clauses to the standard rules and we felt that the cost and time involved would not be appropriate. Additionally there is a broader question as to whether encouraging children to invest in a pub, however community focused, is the right thing to do.

We recognise that this might be disappointing to some people in the community who would like to invest on behalf of their children but hopefully the reasons are clear and we hope that doesn’t discourage the parents from investing to save the Silks!

What do I do if I have a query on my shareholding ?

If you would like to check your shareholding, you can email the secretary and they will confirm by return email.

  • The Downs at sunset
  • Poppies above the pub
  • Owl flying over the downs
  • Misty sunrise on the Downs
  • Ogbourne St Andrew Village Church
Footer campaign logo

Copyright 2021

More Info

Ogbourne Community Pub Society Limited
Reg number: 8552

Useful links

Plunkett logo

And finally thanks:

Ogbourne Parish Council for support along the way

The Plunkett Foundation for their support and advice

Power to Change for their funding package

Graham Lycett at Jellyfish Livewire for our share offer document

John at Cats Solutions for printing our campaign posters

David White, Emma Lavelle, Rob Mills, Steve Poulton & Dave Hughes for photography

All of the Octypus committee members who wrote, edited, organised, hammered, coloured, coded and created to get us this far: Stuart Williamson, Jan Whitehead, Simon Basford, Dave Hughes, Steve Poulton, Jerry Brown, Harriet Rochester, Keith Hammond, Mark Colbourne and Matt France,

The rest of the community who got involved and made this happen, in particular: Helen Wilstead, Rob Mills, Mark Leach, Julian Williams and Nick Gregory

And thanks to Kevin and Fraser who let us pick their brains!

Help us Save the Silks!

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