AN award-winning publican who has a passion for beer has come to the rescue of the last pub in Leafield.

Alan Watkins already runs the Swan in Faringdon and the Radnor Arms in Coleshill, just outside Faringdon, along with two Gloucestershire pubs, the Crown Inn in Lechlade and the Marlborough Arms in Fairford.

The Radnor Arms won a string of local and regional awards from the Campaign for Real Ale last year.

Mr Watkins reopened the Fox, in Leafield, on Tuesday, to the delight of the village’s residents, who have fought a two-year-long campaign to save the pub from closure.

Mr Watkins, a publican for 16 years, said: “I’m very excited. When I first heard the pub was on the market, I drove up there on the same day. It’s a lovely traditional Cotswold pub, and with that much character you have got to make a go of it.”

He is set to sign a 10-year lease and plans to start serving food this week.

Three of his pubs have micro-breweries on site and Mr Watkins hopes to start brewing at the Fox as well.

He said: “Leafield is a thriving place and if we can get locals in there, everyone else will follow. I’m pretty confident for the future.”

Craig Morse, who will manage the pub on Mr Watkins’s behalf, said: “It has been amazing.

“We have had a really good spirit from the villagers and it has been really busy every night we have opened. We can see a good future here.”

The pub almost closed for good in January 2010, after brewer Greene King called last orders.

But villagers launched a Facebook campaign to get it reopened and entered into negotiations with the owners.

After a facelift, the Fox reopened last April and Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron popped in for a pint to celebrate.

But the first landlord called time within six months, after being unable to make it work, and the second landlord fell ill and shut the pub last December.

Rich Weinhold, chairman of the Save the Fox Community Campaign, said: “In the past the pub has not met the needs of an evolving community. And I don’t believe the village is necessarily strong enough or large enough to be able to support the pub entirely on its own.

“But with the network of pubs Alan has and the breadth of appeal and the marketing efforts he has brought, I can see a real promise. It’s really encouraging and we’re delighted it has reopened.”