A PUB at the centre of a community campaign to keep it open has been saved.

The community in the village of Woodgreen, near Fordingbridge, in the New Forest launched a campaign to raise £700,000 to keep their local pub open.

But as villagers hit the £550,000 market it emerged that the Horse and Groom had been bought by a new owner and will reopen next month.

Landlord Jason Schinkel, pictured inset, who already runs two pubs in the area, has taken over the business.

The 52-year-old currently runs The Bat and Ball in Fordingbridge and the Radnor Arms in Salisbury.

The pub, which has been part of the local community since Victorian times, closed in September and was put on the market by the brewery Hall and Woodhouse in June.

At the time company director Mark James said: “The Horse and Groom went on sale in June. We are pleased with the level of interest we have received from parties seeking to purchase the pub and hope to complete a sale in the coming months.”

The popular watering hole was designated an asset of community value in a move which gave villagers months to submit a bid to save it.

Jason who has worked in the hospitality industry all of his life and who was the publican at The Cricketers in Eastleigh for eight years said: “I know this area well as I have been here for eight years now.

“I know local people and hopefully this will mean I will have a good following.

“The pub has a lot of potential and I think that it will be great as a food operated pub.

“I want to ensure we serve good quality food and I currently have a new chef lined up to work at the pub when it opens.

Jason added: “People have had concerns about the future of the Horse and Groom but I will definitely be keeping it as a pub and sticking to its traditional roots.”

Villagers who had campaigned to save the pub were disappointed they had lost out but called on locals to support the new landlord.

Julie Rich who was spearheading the community pub limited campaign said:”It is disappointing.

“We gave it our best shot and I don’t think we could have possibly done much more.

"We will keep the campaign group open for any future campaigns but the money will go back to the investors."

More than a 150 investors helped to raise the cash, 96% of those who invested live within a 15 mile radius of the watering hole.

Julie added: “It was an amazing effort and it was quite humbling.

“Jason is a fabulous publican but I hope the community effort shows the owner that residents are really behind keeping this as a traditional pub.”