A new look – but the community spirit and sense of fun remain

CHEERS Alan Fry, centre, serves up pints to regulars Patrick O'Neill (left) and Mike Young
CHEERS Alan Fry, centre, serves up pints to regulars Patrick O'Neill (left) and Mike Young

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Every August the staff at the Castle in the Air make the most of its waterfront location by organising a massive charity fundraising raft race.

The raft race in Fareham creek has become an annual tradition that has made thousands of pounds for local charities over the years.

Since landlord Alan Fry took over two years ago the pub has been backing the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs).

Alan said: ‘A high percentage of my customers probably have boats or are involved in them, so it’s a good charity for us to support.

‘It’s getting bigger every year. We have the live music and the market stalls out here, and the entertainment goes on through the evening.

‘It’s an amazing day.’

When this year’s race takes place on August 20, the pub, in Old Gosport Road, will be sporting a new look – it is closing for the week before to be refurbished.

Ron Lewis, 63, from Compass Point in Fareham, helps out with the raft race. He said: ‘The whole day, it’s a total family and community day out for everybody and it’s for charity. A lot of the people here have got boats and it’s great that the pub supports Gafirs and gives something back to them.

‘It’s a very well-organised day and it’s a lot of fun.’

As well as its fundraising, the pub is also proud of its reputation as one of the safest places to drink in Fareham.

Regular Pat O’Neill, 76, can often be found at the end of the bar with a pint of Guinness.

He said: ‘I’ve been to a lot of pubs over the years and this is one of the last real pubs left.

‘We’ve had a few landlords and ladies here over the years, some good, some bad, and Alan has really turned this place around.

‘He’s been brilliant and so are the staff. It’s the kind of place where your drink is waiting for you as soon as you come through the door and there’s never any trouble.

‘I hope the refurbishment doesn’t harm the atmosphere.’

Alan added: ‘We got an award from the police for being the safest pub in Fareham. I’ve only ever had to escort two people out of here.

‘We get people of all ages here, but when groups of lads from their 20s to mid-30s come down from the town centre, particularly when we have live music on Fridays, they like it because they know there won’t be any trouble here.’

Mike Young, 73, sitting next to Pat with his pint of Ruddles, said: ‘This is a proper pub. It’s one of the last few remaining ones around. I like a nice quiet pub where you can have a drink and a chat during the day.’