NEARLY £8,000 has been raised for a much-loved Salisbury pub to help cover its rent during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Customers of The Winchester Gate in Rampart Road, which is known as both a watering hole and live music venue, wanted to help the site bounce back from its temporary closure by covering three months-worth of rent.

The fundraiser, launched at the end of June, raised £5,000 in just two days and the total now stands at around £7,800.

Mike Clipson, who set up the fundraising page on behalf of the pub’s customers, said there was inspiration to set it up after reading that Wellington Pub Company, the group who owns The Winchester Gate, expected full rent to be paid despite no income during the pandemic.

Setting a target of £10,000 to match rent costs, he said: “A lot of people love The Winchester Gate - it’s not just a pub.

“It is a really nice space and we all know each other, it’s like a community. I have seen a lot of bands play there and I’ve made friends for life.

“I was pretty disgusted at the thought of [owners] Robb and Abi having to pay this rent, so people suggested setting up a Just Giving page to help with costs.”

Mike added: “I thought [the fundraiser] would just get them a few quid so I hope it’s helpful for paying rent. And it’s not just about keeping the pub open but it’s about giving something back.

"These guys do so much for charity and the community so really deserve this money.”

The Winchester Gate’s Robb Blake said the response to the fundraiser has been “unbelievable”, adding: “We didn’t even know it was happening at first, but we would have been more than happy if it had raised say £500.

“We have been totally overwhelmed by the whole thing, even bands that have toured here have put money in. To go from working to no income has been tough, costs are going out whether we are open or not.

"We have been shut the best time of the year because of the nicer weather, so now we just hope people will keep coming back.”

The Winchester Gate reopened on Saturday, in line with the latest lift in lockdown measures.

Mike added: “We all love The Winchester Gate - there’s something really special about it. So many pubs have closed over the last nine years that I’ve lived here, we would be sad for The Winchester Gate to close.”

For more information and to donate visit the Just Giving page.