Paul and Anita enjoy being on the front line at The Fifth Hants

(l-r) Bar staff Izzy Whitaker, Sophia Walker, Landlady Anita Buxton and assistant manager Emily Johnston.''''Picture: Sarah Standing (132128-5447)

(l-r) Bar staff Izzy Whitaker, Sophia Walker, Landlady Anita Buxton and assistant manager Emily Johnston.''''Picture: Sarah Standing (132128-5447)

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Landlords Paul Hind and Anita Buxton knew things would be a challenge when they first took over The Fifth Hants Volunteer Arms.

They were replacing John Nash, a veteran in the pub industry who had worked behind the bar for 28 years.

But the couple have taken everything in their stride and worked hard to win everyone over.

They like to call their business The New Fifth Hants – and with the help of Fuller’s have given the place a huge makeover.

The toilets and bar area were cleaned up and the walls and the exterior were repainted.

The frosted glass has been removed so it looks brighter and more visible from the outside.

Live music is now held on Thursday nights and new and up and coming artists are encouraged to come along and have a go.

A meat raffle is held on Sundays and there’s plans to hold a charity night once a month.

Paul, who took over with Anita in December last year, said: ‘It’s been a challenge.

‘There was an old Fifth Hants and now it’s a new Fifth Hants.’

Despite his modern approach, Paul said he wanted to keep the pub’s traditional features.

He’s put up more bric-a-brac which makes reference to the 5th (Portsmouth) Corps of the Hampshire Rifles Volunteer Rifles, which the pub’s name makes reference to.

‘We have a lovely Victorian-style bar now,’ Paul said.

‘We wanted to keep the history of the pub.

‘We’ve got an old picture of the pub of when it was first built on the wall now.

‘I have decided to keep everything in keeping.

‘The place is more female-friendly now and there’s lots of new customers.

‘They think there’s a nice atmosphere.’

The pub was the birthplace of the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale in the early 1970s. It has featured in Camra’s annual Good Beer Guide publication for many years. The couple plan to open a cafe called The Fifth Hants Eating House next to the pub in September.

It would supply the pub’s food and be a place where guests can go and have coffee and something to eat.

Anita said: ‘I’m really glad we’re in business together.

‘I like the interaction with the customers – there’s never a dull moment in this place.

‘There’s a lovely mix of people of varying ages. Pubs are still important, they are what brings people together.’

HARD-WORKING Anita Buxton enjoyed working on foreign soil before she went to The Fifth Hants Volunteer Arms.

She spent eight years working in a bar and restaurant in Thailand.

She then returned to the UK five years ago and got a job as a personal assistant for a director at the Office for National Statistics.

After being made redundant Anita decided to go into business with her partner Paul, 54.

The pair have been together for two years.

Anita, who grew up in Hilsea, Portsmouth, said: ‘Working in Thailand was a completely different ball game.

‘There were a lot of holidaymakers. You didn’t see the same people all the time.’

She said taking over a pub on familiar territory was the right thing to do.

‘We thought we’d go for it,’ she said. ‘You don’t see a soap opera without a pub.

‘The people in them are together in the pub and that’s what it’s like in real life.

‘People like to come in because they want to talk to someone.

The couple employ eight barmaids who help to keep the place in tip-top shape.

‘Our pub is clean and tidy,’ Anita said. ‘All the girls are hard working and friendly to everyone.

‘That’s the way it goes.’

Anita said that though the pub doesn’t have a licence which allows it to accommodate for children, things might change in the future.

And talking about plans for the future, she said: ‘Opening up a cafe is something we’ve talked about doing for a long time.’

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