PUBS all over the UK have been suffering a similar fate to the Castle Inn for years now.

Around 13,000 closed in England and Wales between 2001 and 2018. Nearly 1,000 shut nationwide in one calendar year in 2018. More than a dozen have gone in Kendal alone, including the Castle.

But communities are fighting back against the decline.

National figures showed the rate of closures slowed in 2019 partly due to relief on previously high business rates but also thanks to the type of campaign being waged by lovers of the Castle.

All over the country, groups of residents are banding together to protect their local by having it listed as an asset of community value, and many are succeeding.

The numbers of listed pubs are soaring as locals fight to save these valued hubs of community life from the hands of housing developers and try to raise the cash to either keep them open or, in the Castle's case, open them once again.

Pubs have had plenty to deal with in recent years. The smoking ban, the competition of supermarket cheap drink and general changes in social habits hit licensees hard.

But these challenges can be overcome.

The revival of real ale and rise in popularity of micropubs - small premises often with a no-music policy and focus on quality beer and a friendly welcome - shows that not every bar needs drinks promotions and ear-splitting noise to pull in the punters.

There is still a market for a simple meeting place where regulars can go, feel safe, and enjoy a chat over a drink or two - so the desire to restore the Castle as a 'proper' pub definitely has merit.

There are countless cases all over the UK of local people who form a committee, chip in to buy their favourite hostelry, then run it themselves or find a trusted tenant. There is no reason why the Kendal community can't do the same.

So we back the brilliantly-named CIKOFF (Castle Inn Kendal, Open for the Future) campaigners in their efforts and urge anyone who loves the great British pub to attend the public meeting on March 12.

You can have a say in the future of the Castle and ensure that future generations can enjoy the simple pleasure of putting the world to rights over a pint between its walls.