IT HAS taken two long years but a pub which was almost lost for good is about to reopen.
Villagers in Denmead fought tooth and nail to save the Fox & Hounds in School Lane after it was announced a developer wanted to bulldoze it and build luxury homes.
A campaign was set up to have the building listed as a community asset in order to give a co-operative the right to buy it from the owners after it closed in 2012.
It took a long time but a co-operative set up to try and reopen the pub was finally able to buy the pub after huge generosity was shown by the community.
But it was not just financial backing.
Months of back-breaking work by villagers has gone into ripping the insides out and completely revamping the run-down grounds in a bid to keep the refurbishment costs down.
New landlords have now signed up and the 140-year-old pub is set to open on December 6.
Rob Stark, who has spearheaded the campaign and is the director of the co-operative, announced the new landlords – Steve Pratt and Angela Ryan.
And they are already taking bookings.
Ms Ryan said: ‘Table bookings are flying in faster than Santa’s sleigh.
‘We are so very excited about this new business venture.
‘It will be a brand new start for us, a family-run business to include my chef son Damion and his partner Jess.
‘We’re extremely delighted and so very grateful for the tremendous support and kindness shown and offers of help by the Denmead community and cannot wait to meet them all and welcome them back to the pub that they fought so hard to keep.
‘We want to sincerely thank the directors of the community co-operative for all their support and we take our hats off to them – they are a brilliant team of guys.
‘The pub is looking amazing and the builders and all tradesmen involved have done a fantastic job.
‘We are so lucky.’
The final community clear up day takes place tomorrow. Volunteers are welcome to go along.
Recruitment is now underway for front of house, bar, waiting staff and kitchen staff, including a commis chef.