Love Your Local: The Westleigh, Havant

LOCALS Pub regulars Kevin Bringham, Chris Fewings, and Ron Turner enjoy a pint. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (123218-3)
LOCALS Pub regulars Kevin Bringham, Chris Fewings, and Ron Turner enjoy a pint. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123218-3)
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It used to be a members’ club and most of its income came from private functions.

Now The Westleigh, in Havant, which is part of Havant and Waterlooville Football Club, has been given a new lease of life as a public bar.

Steve McNaught

Steve McNaught

Two years ago the club’s board of directors decided to change the licence of the building because they wanted it to serve the community.

The pub is now split into two – one half is used by the public and members and the other doubles up as a function room for the football club and community groups.

A refurbishment of the building, which was built 30 years ago, saw brown sofas and tables and new carpets being put in the new public space.

Landlord Steve McNaught, 53, who took over in October 2010, said the transition has been a major success.

‘Turnover has easily doubled and at times it makes treble what the place was making before,’ he said.

‘The directors wanted to give the rest of the community a chance to use the place and most of the income beforehand was only coming from functions.’

The pub is now doing its fair share for worthy causes.

A night of fun with tribute bands on August 24 helped to raise £496.72 for The Lighthouse Club, a construction industry charity which supports workers and their families in times of hardship.

Money was also raised through the sale of photographs of regulars with an Olympic torch as well as a raffle.

An extra £260 was gathered from the sale of a handmade pool cue.

The pub wanted to help the charity because regular Martin Dove, who is a builder, badly injured himself after he fell through a skylight last year.

Steve was asked to take over after he ran his former pub The Golden Lion, in Bedhampton, between 2005 and 2009.

He helped to refurbish it and the £155,000 cost was paid for by Punch Taverns.

He added: ‘We want to try different things at The Westleigh because you have to give people a reason to come in.

‘You can’t just open the doors and hope for the best.’

MEET THE LANDLORD

LANDLORD Steve McNaught always dreamed of opening up his own restaurant or pub.

‘I sold computer systems to companies for 20 years,’ he said.

‘By the end of it I was tired of the long hours and commuting from where I live in Bedhampton to often the other end of the country.

‘I was getting up at 5.30am and not coming home until 10pm most days.

‘I began getting this feeling of wanting to run my own pub or restaurant. Cooking helps me to relax.

‘Maybe one day I’ll try serving food at The Westleigh.

‘Right now I don’t think the climate is right for it.’

Steve, who is originally from Glasgow, joined the Royal Navy at 17. He went on to serve in The Falklands War, where he served on HMS Yarmouth, which helped to tow HMS Sheffield out of the exclusion zone. He retired from the navy as a Leading Hand.

Mr McNaught’s son Patrick, 21, and daughter Rachel, 24, both work for Portsmouth City Council.

Rachel helped out her dad behind the bar when he ran The Golden Lion.

Mr McNaught said: ‘I am incredibly passionate about my job and this business. I am 100 per cent behind The News’ Love Your Local campaign.‘

Mick Hagir, 59, who has been a regular of The Westleigh for 29 years, added: ‘You don’t get any trouble here. It’s a great place.’