A derelict village pub that was set to be turned into a house is getting ready to re-open.
Villagers in Mitford launched a fierce campaign last year to save The Plough Inn after plans were submitted to turn it into a dwelling house.
Residents even set about raising funds to buy the premises as a community asset, and in April the housing application was withdrawn.
However, the pub remained closed and the community carried on its fund-raising efforts.
But in October it was bought by local man Richard Gill, who vowed to give it a new lease of life.
And after investing in a major refurbishment and months of hard work, the pub which has been closed for more than two years is set to re-open within weeks.
The threat of a house has gone and all we want is for it to re-open.Mike Sharp Mitford Parish Council Chairman
Mr Gill said: “I have lived locally all my life and I thought it was a crying shame that The Plough was closed. I used to go there myself.
“The community was going to buy it, but when I stepped in I think it was a good situation for everybody.
“I bought it in October and have been refurbishing it since. We are just about finished now and will re-open on March 21. It should be a good night.”
Former regulars will immediately notice the new signage and freshly painted parking bays upon approaching the pub, but it is inside where the biggest changes have taken place.
There has been re-decorating throughout, the pool table has been removed and new carpet has been laid.
However, the biggest investment has been in a state-of-the-art kitchen.
“The painters and decorators must have been in about two months so people will notice a difference, and the kitchen is out of this world,” said Mr Gill.
“The kitchen that was in before would never have got five stars for hygiene, or anything like that. It was rotten. We have gutted the whole kitchen, replaced everything and got all new equipment, all the mod-cons.
“It will be the best kitchen in these parts and it will mean that the pub can step up its food offer.
“There has been a good revamp throughout. The pub has been re-decorated right through and people will notice a big difference.”
Mr Gill has found experienced tenants in Alyson and Dean McDonald to take on the running of The Plough, and he hopes it will serve as a community hub.
“The community seems to be very interested in what’s going on and they are pleased that the pub is re-opening,” he said.
“It would be nice if it could get involved with different things in the village. It will be good if the pub and community can work together.”
Mitford Parish Council Chairman Mike Sharp, who led the campaign against The Plough being turned into a house, has welcomed news of its re-opening.
He said: “We are all delighted.
“We had started to go down the road of a community benefit society to raise funds to purchase The Plough and we had got in place some short-term loans to enable us to make a bid, but then Mr Gill, who was one of the regulars of The Plough when it was open, decided to buy it himself, which was great.
“He has done a lot of work on the building and it looks more like a pub again.
“The threat of a house has gone and all we want is for it to re-open.”