THE long road to bringing a West Fife village pub into community ownership could be near its end with hopes that an official launch could take place next month.

After securing support from around the world to save the last pub in the village, the team behind the community buy-out of the Red Lion in Culross – which has been backed by Outlander star Sam Heughan – are hoping a grand opening can take place in July.

West Fife Community Trading Limited was set up as a community benefit society last year to raise £800,000 with the aim of ploughing the surplus income back into the ancient burgh to fund local projects.

The move came after current owners David Alexander and Ann Dowds, who had enjoyed a roaring trade at the Red Lion for more than 30 years, announced their plans to retire.

Secretary Tim Collins said they were hopeful that their plans will pass the finishing post in the coming weeks.

"It is exciting," he said. "We are as close now as we are ever going to be. It looks like it will go ahead.

"It is not yet a done deal but it is as close as it has ever been."

The category B-listed Red Lion dates back to around 1570 and was originally a merchant's house.

In the mid-1700s, it was among 11 'ale houses' in Culross but, by 2011, it was the only one left.

In recent years, the village post office, butcher's shop and local store all closed and there was a possibility the pub would go too.

Villagers feared that if they didn't act, their local could fall into the hands of property developers.

A share offer was launched and a smart move to cash in on the global pulling power of Outlander – Culross was used to depict the village of Cranesmuir in the hit TV series – paid off with celebrity endorsements and shareholders from around the world.

Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser, revealed on Twitter that the historic pub was where he and co-star Caitriona Balfe first shared a drink during filming.

And, in December, there was an early Christmas present with a £504,000 grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

They applied for £250,000 from the Community Ownership Fund but discovered earlier this year that they had missed out.

"We had to find that funding gap and we have more or less done that up to the point where we are finalising the bits and pieces," Tim added.

"We have come a long way – it has been a rollercoaster ride."