A MUCH-loved Sussex pub has been saved from the brink of collapse after being awarded a £28,000 lifeline.

The sum will allow The Dyke Alehouse in Dyke Road, Brighton, to reopen as soon as lockdown restrictions are sufficiently lifted.

Owner William Farmer said he feared for the worst when he found as the coronavirus crisis plunged the hospitality industry into a period of severe uncertainty, with many businesses brought to their knees by a series of enforced closures.

Last year, the 31-year-old found out his business interruption insurance would not pay out, so he decided to go down the legal route to ensure his company's future.

He enlisted the help of claims management firm Stratton Richards, which was able to secure the £28,000 interim settlement that allows him to start planning the reopening of the site.

Mr Farmer, an ex-soldier, said: "It has obviously been a very tough time, there have been days when I thought I’d have to declare bankruptcy.

The Dyke pub in Dyke Road, Brighton

The Dyke pub in Dyke Road, Brighton

"We had only been open for six months when lockdown hit, so it was frustrating to have to close just as we were getting up and running.

“Like many people, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress and lack of sleep as I’d be worrying about the future of my business and my own financial future too.

“Now that I’ve secured the settlement from my insurers, I’m hoping to reopen in May and get going again.

“It’s been a very tough time for the hospitality industry but hopefully, with the success of the vaccine rollout and restrictions easing, we can all have a great summer."

Before taking over The Dyke, Mr Farmer, from Patcham, spent six years in the army, including spells in frontline infantry in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After leaving, he knew he wanted to start a brewing company and launched Veterans Brewing in 2018.

Within a year, his bubbling ambition began to surface and the idea of opening a pub began to sound more and more appealing.

A large part of his motivation for this was that he wanted to see drinkers' reactions to his ales in person, allowing him to get face-to-face feedback in his pursuit of perfect brews.

After a successful Crowdfunding campaign, which drew support from across the city on its way to raising more than £24,000, he was able to refurbish The Dyke Alehouse and reopen it as a community pub in August 2019.

But, just six months after this colossal effort came to fruition, the coronavirus crisis forced him to shut the pub's doors once again.

Mr Farmer believed his business insurance would cover costs while the site was closed, but was told that he would not receive any money.

So, he turned to claims management company Stratton Richards for support, and was placed into the hands of PRHS Solicitors. They have, so far, secured an interim payment of £28,000 which will allow him to reopen the pub once lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Dyke pub owner William Farmer

The Dyke pub owner William Farmer

Mr Farmer added: "I had been paying around £150 per month for business insurance and like a lot of businesses I thought they would cover me for losses during lockdown.

"Starting a new business is a huge investment to begin with, so when lockdown came in I didn’t know how I’d be able to cope financially.

"I still had rent to pay and several staff to support and the furlough scheme still involves costs to the employer. I was desperate to do everything I could to support my staff and ensure the pub would be able to reopen when restrictions eased.

"I wasn’t getting anywhere with the insurance company so I spoke to Stratton Richards who told me they thought I had a strong case for a bigger settlement.

"I’m so grateful for the support of both Stratton Richards and PRHS Solicitors during a really tough time and it’s thanks to them that I am now able to start planning for a busy summer when pubs are allowed to reopen."

A Stratton Richards spokesman said: “William’s story is one we’ve heard time after time, a small business owner who has struggled to get the financial support they are entitled to.

"Some insurers think they can offer derisory settlements and wash their hands of the issue but it’s simply not fair.

"Few of us could have foreseen an event such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects it would have on the economy but that’s exactly why many small businesses take out insurance - to protect them from the unexpected.

"We want to make sure business owners have the confidence to take on their insurance company and get what’s rightfully theirs."