REGULARS at an Oxford pub like their landlady so much they raised £20,000 to keep her on.

Drinkers at the Red Lion, in Old Marston, pulled together the cash to loan to Diana Berry, 55, so she could take out a three-year tenancy from brewer Greene King.

She and husband Stewart took over the Oxford Road watering hole in June and ran it for a holding company while owners Greene King searched for a permanent landlord.

The couple were left heartbroken by the tenancy asking price but were thrilled when regulars said they would help out.

fonly Mrs Berry said: “We are delighted. This pub is our home life and our social life. It is hard work but we love it, especially here in Marston.”

Twenty pub-goers each loaned £1,000 to the family, at a minimal interest rate of three per cent over two years.

Mrs Berry said: “This sets us up and hopefully we’ll just keep going and going.

“With the economy, though, you never know.”

The couple, who live at the pub with daughter Linzi, 17, held a party on Saturday to say thank you to their regulars.

Mrs Berry, who is originally from Abingdon, said: “We are so grateful.”

Mrs Berry said: “Pubs don’t have that community feel anymore so we are trying to go back to when pubs were about family and community.

“It goes to show that a community like ours can get together to save our village pubs.”

Old Marston Parish Council chairman and Red Lion patron Charlie Haynes said he was delighted to help out.

He said: “The Red Lion pub has been in the village for many, many years.

“We were very lucky that the holding company sent Diana and Stewart. They’ve really gelled well and everyone likes them.

“Other pubs in the area have been closing, so a group of us who could put their money where their mouths were decided to step in.”

He added: “I think my wife might have been happy if it had closed though.”

Two years ago, the Oxford Mail reported how Mrs Berry had donated her kidney to help son Matthew, in a ‘paired share’ scheme.

She donated her kidney to a patient in London, whose friend or relative donated their kidney to Matthew. He has now fully recovered.