AFTER saving their own pub, punters in Culross are offering a helping hand to villagers who want to run their local in North Queensferry.

The community rallied round to buy the Red Lion Inn and stop it closing its doors for good and, backed by shareholders from the village and around the world, it's doing a roaring trade.

And their success is also being toasted in North Queensferry, with an interested party of residents hoping to follow their lead.

Tim Collins, secretary of West Fife Community Trading Limited, which was set up to buy the Red Lion, said: "The community purchase of the pub is a really good example of what can be done.

"There's a group of investors in North Queensferry that are looking to do something similar, with the Albert Hotel.

"We've been in contact every so often, there's an open forum on a Scottish community pubs website, but I think they're using a slightly different funding model."

Earlier this month, the Press reported that the Scottish Government had rejected an appeal from the Albert's owners, who had wanted planning permission to convert the premises into flats.

That could open the doors for a sale to the local investors and see another community-owned pub in West Fife.

The purchase of the popular Culross inn was completed in July last year after locals and interested parties from around the world bought up the Lion's shares through a campaign backed by Outlander star Sam Heughan, who had filmed in the royal burgh and enjoyed a drink in the bar.

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

Glass half full, Tim said: "It's still there! That's the real benefit of it as it wouldn't have been if the community hadn't rallied together to buy it.

"It would have been flogged off to a developer and turned into a house by now.

"I think the community can be really proud of themselves, they've saved the pub."

He continued: "It's operating as it's supposed to. We've got tenants in, Andrena and Mike, who lease the pub from us and the feedback is all good.

"It's still as busy as it ever was and, generally speaking, we're really pleased with the way it's worked out.

"All the staff are there from before, mostly young people, and it's the biggest employer in Culross.

"That's really important as the public transport round here is terrible so for a young person to even get to an interview, far less travel back and forward to the job, is a big chore. So having a local employer in the village is a big plus."

Pubs are facing hard times with sky-high energy prices and a clientele that got used to drinking at home during lockdown but the sense of ownership in Culross keeps villagers coming back for more.

Tim agreed: "They will turn out to support it as they've invested in it, and they know fine well if they don't use it they will lose it.

"The community have been really good."

He continued: "We've got plans to put in bike racks and points so you can charge electric bikes, and there's a company trying to see if we can get electric vehicle charging points too, so we're trying to be as green as possible.

"The long-term aim for the pub is to build up our reserves to cover all the costs, and the surplus funds will go into the community to pay for all sorts of good stuff, whatever they want to spend it on, such as extra equipment in the playpark."