FAMILIES and friends celebrated the return of a popular Highworth pub - and its new landlady hopes it's here to stay.

The Goldfinger Tavern on Newburgh Place welcomed regulars and new faces through its doors just six weeks after its former managers decided to close up and leave.

Sheldon Inns stepped in to save it last week and worked fast to have it ready for its big reopening on Friday. People inside the packed pub were very glad to have it back.

Sandra Ganson, 75, said: "Highworth has been lifted by its return, it's great news for all of us and I'm so excited that it's back.

"Everyone was talking about the reopening and it's a lovely thing for the community. It's a great place to meet people of all ages and socialise.

"Mums and dads often pop in after collecting their kids from the nearby schools, give the children a Fruit Shoot and let them play around in the garden while they have a coffee and a chat.

"My friends and I were gobsmacked when it closed because we met here every day, everyone was gutted. We lost that sense of community for a few weeks, it was sorely missed.

"The new landlady is a friend of ours and she's brilliant, she's the manager it needs."

Sharon Johnson worked in the pub's former incarnation three years ago and was warmly welcomed back by customers when she returned.

She said: “It’s going really well so far and the first day was manic, I was overwhelmed.

"All the locals have come back, it's nice to see so many familiar faces and it feels like I never went away.

“We’ve seen a few new customers pop in to see what's going on which is great.

"It's going to be a family-friendly pub with proper meals like casseroles and hotpots once the kitchen's back up and running because there aren't a lot of options for meals like that in Highworth.

“I was sad to see the Goldfinger close, as were a lot of people in Highworth, because it’s a real community-focused pub with a warm atmosphere and everyone around here likes it.

“I worked here for a long time then went off to do my own thing for a while but now I’m back and I’m not letting it close again. It’s here to stay now.”

A new menu based around home-cooked meals is in the works and Halloween discos for children and adults will end the month in style.

Ian Kerry, 71, visited the Goldie every Saturday with his relatives and was glad to have this weekly tradition restored. He said: "I live just down the road so it's convenient - and it's a great family pub.

"We were over the moon when it reopened because a lot of pubs in the area have closed over the years. Hopefully it will do well."