COMMUNITY-spirited villagers came together to ensure a historic pub could reopen just a few hours after a car crashed into the building.

A car went into the front wall of The Alma, in School Road, Copford, at 8.25am on Christmas Eve.

Following the incident the building, which is around 160-years-old, was badly damaged and the landlord of the pub was unsure whether the pub would be able to reopen in time for the busy festive period.

However, villagers rallied round and clubbing together they helped to repair the damage.

After some restorative work by the helpers, the pub was able to reopen the same day.

David Broughton said: “The community rallied around and with help from local tradesmen and builders as well as great residents The Alma managed to reopen only two hours late on Christmas Eve.

“There was no way this situation was going to let the locals have their pub out of action for Christmas and with scaffolding, supports and timbers all in place the pub again was the hub of the Copford community.

“The turnout in the evening was even bigger than usual.

“In the face of near misery at Christmas with villagers not having access to their pub, it is so great to see a community pull round and support each other.”

Gazette: The Alma was packed on Christmas EveThe Alma was packed on Christmas Eve

On Boxing Day the village’s community came together again for the traditional Copford Barrel Hunt, now named the John King Barrel Hunt.

The event, which was renamed after its creator John King who died earlier this year, has been part of Copford life for more than four decades.

Three empty beer barrels are hidden on a trail across the area, with prizes being given to those who find them.

This year’s event raised £660 which will be split between Colchester Hospital’s cancer centre fund and an appeal to buy a bench in the village in memory of Mr King.

Gazette: Dozens of residents joined the village's traditional barrel huntDozens of residents joined the village's traditional barrel hunt

Mr Broughton, who organises the event, said: “The rain came down and we were worried about a wash out, but the gods were smiling and the rain stopped at 11am, the prescribed start time for the annual gathering and walk.

“The event attracts up to about 150 locals and visitors and takes about 45 minutes to complete ending up back at the pub.

“This year to ease congestion there was an outside bar as well.”

Following the crash a 57-year-old man from Colchester was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and possession of firearms offences.

He was interviewed by the police and has been released on bail until January 19.