VILLAGERS are doing it for themselves in Ashton Keynes after three locals took on what has become the last pub standing.

The White Hart Inn is taking part in Community Pubs Month, which is being run by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

The village landmark has been placed back at the heart of the community with a full roster of local real ales and community events.

Jon Hughes, who has lived in the village for 21 years, is one of the locals who took on the challenge last year.

He said: “We were all moaning over our pints about how there was nowhere decent in the village to go, so we decided to do something about it and take on the lease.

“We wanted to set up a decent community pub that was at the heart of village life, serving local ales and food.

“Villages need certain things to be successful. There is the school and the shop, which is being run by the villagers on a co-operative basis, and we felt it was important that we did our bit with the pub. The nice thing about Ashton Keynes is that is a real community spirit here and a lot of local initiatives.

“It was a bit sad that people were jumping in their cars and going to Cricklade to have a pint.”

The White Hart has achieved casque marque status, an independent award showing it offers high quality cask ale.

On Easter Sunday, it was packed as it welcomed locals and visitors from the French village of Grandchamp Des Fontaines, which Ashton Keynes is twinned with.

Over the weekend of April 20 and 21 there will be an English theme for St George’s Day with locally-sourced food and ales.

Beers include Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire, Moles in Melksham and Stroud from Gloucestershire.

The pub, near the fledgling Thames on High Road, was first listed as dwelling in 1749 and became a pub sometime before 1810.

Mr Hughes said: “The pub was going downhill before we took over and since then the only other pub in the village has closed.

“We’ve turned the White Hart into somewhere people can come and have a chat and clubs and societies, such as football teams and the twinning club, can meet up.

“There’s no doubt there are a lot of pubs closing but we went into this with our eyes open. There is still a market for the other pubs out there and if you turn somewhere like the White Hart into an attractive community venue, people will come and support it.”

Camra’s Community Pubs Month is a drive to celebrate the best community venues in Swindon and beyond.

The group wants to increase footfall, help promote events and raise awareness.

l If you run a pub or know a place you think the Adver should feature please get in touch on 01793 528144 or email newsdesk@swindonadvertiser.