A FATHER-of-two has taken over his local pub to save it from the threat of closure.

Bal Gill, 31, has relaunched the Gardiner Arms in Tackley, near Kidlington, because villagers were worried the pub was going to be sold.

The buyout comes days after the Oxford Mail revealed the pub was set to become the 13th to close down in the county in the past 12 months.

More than 70 villagers staged a sit-in at the beer garden last Saturday night to show how much they valued their pub after it closed more than two weeks ago.

It is the second pub opening in as many months for Mr Gill, a father-of-two from Bunkers HIll, who recently took on the lease for The Swan at Islip.

Yesterday, people living nearby were invited to a Champagne reception to celebrate the reopening.

Mr Gill said preserving local Pubs was “vital” for village communities.

He said: “Some of our customers at The Swan also drink at the Gardiner.

“They were telling me they thought it was going to be lost forever so I went and had a look, and everything snowballed from there.

“I signed the papers a few days later and here we are reopening.

“I have known the pub for a long time and I’m really pleased to be running it now.”

While The Swan offers a tapas menu, Mr Gill said the Gardiner Arms, in Medcroft Road, will offer traditional pub food.

He believed there was enough interest from the local community to help the pub thrive.

Mr Gill added: “Pubs are absolutely vital to villages and I’m a firm believer that they should be the social hub.

“This pub used to have a good reputation in years gone by and I want to return it to the well-respected establishment it once was.

“After speaking to the community I truly believe it will be well supported, and will become a place people want to go.”

Both Mr Gill’s premises are owned by pub company Greene King.

Mr Gill said he was looking forward to meeting members of local societies and clubs.

He said: “I fully intend on supporting the village’s Aunt Sally and darts teams and want to give them a place to compete.

“We will be working closely with people living nearby to hear what they want and expect, and will try to offer something that suits as many people as possible.

“I have installed a good team of staff with lots of local knowledge, and I’m really looking forward to getting the place up and running once more.”