The licensee of a previously unused pub which has been transformed into the hub of the community has won an award.

Stoke born-and-bred Paul Collins who runs The Roebuck at Forsbrook received the national Newcomer of the Year Award from Star Pubs & Bars.

Paul had his first ever pint at the pub aged 18 and became a life long customer. On retirement from his gas delivery business, he began helping out at The Roebuck to keep busy. When the licensee left, regulars - who were concerned for The Roebuck's future - appealed to Paul to take it on.

Since taking the helm in summer 2017, 61-year-old Paul has invested £40,000 into the pub and transformed its fortunes, winning back former customers and attracting residents who had never been in before, including senior citizens and many more women.

He redecorated the inside and created an all-weather garden complete with an outside bar, wood-fired pizza oven and a stage. With no café in the village, Paul has added a tearoom above the pub.

The judges commended Paul for The Roebuck's fundraising, which has already donated in the region of £10,000 to different charities such as Douglas Macmillan Hospice and The Donna Louise children's hospice. 

Paul said: "I'd retired and didn't plan to take over my local but half way through my first bar shift I realised I loved it. Seeing people enjoy themselves, makes me happy; I wish I'd done this 30 years ago.

"I never in my wildest dreams imagined The Roebuck could be so successful. It has been a team effort with the village and the customers, so this award is for them too. They get on board with everything we try and are incredibly generous in donating to good causes."

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director said: "We were blown away by The Roebuck and Paul's talent, energy and passion for the job. The Roebuck is an outstanding pub with a brilliant atmosphere where customers are assured of a warm welcome, some great craic and a laugh as well as extremely good food and drink."