VILLAGERS are celebrating after a buyer was found to take over their local pub following a month-long campaign to keep it open.

Hundreds of people backed calls to keep The Five Bells Inn open in Clyst Hydon after concerns were raised that it could be sold for re-development as a residential property.

Paul Parnell, owner and landlord of the award-winning Jack in the Green Inn at Rockbeare, near Exeter, has acquired the lease to run the Grade II listed thatched inn, which had been on sale with Bristol agents GVA since the pub went into receivership.

The pub is currently open, but will close before re-launching in the summer after extensive refurbishment with new manager Chris Charles.

“I’ve always known of the pub as an idyllic country local, but it’s down to the extensive campaigning of residents that I heard of its plight,” said Paul.

“Their committed support demonstrates that the pub’s still a viable business with lots of potential for growth.

“Locally born Chris has been in the hospitality industry over ten years, spending the last six years managing the Jack alongside me, and completely understands the values needed to make a community pub work for everyone.”

Villager Clive Birch, who led the campaign, said: “We’re relieved and more than delighted to learn that the team from the Jack in the Green Inn will be the driving force.

“Country pubs are an intrinsic part of British culture and play an important role in keeping village communities alive.

“With our continued support we anticipate that The Five Bells will not only redeem its past fame, but surpass it.”