A community-owned pub in West Oxfordshire which is supported by a Hollywood star is about to reopen.

The campaign to save The White Horse in Stonesfield reached as far as the pages of the New York Times, and over £450,000 was raised by locals, worldwide donors and investors keen to see the group succeed. 

The sale of the White Horse was completed on September 8 after extensive negotiation.

READ MORE: Police forensics officers investigate fire 

Funds for the purchase were raised through a share offer, donations, local fundraising and grant funding.

The initial shares scheme to buy the West Oxfordshire watering hole was backed by actor Rupert Friend, star of Homeland, Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal, and Disney + series Obi-Wan Kenobi, who grew up in the village.

Staff at the pub including new tenants Craig and Barbara are getting ready to reopen it on Friday at 11.30am.

(Image: Back the White Horse) They posted on the Back the White Horse website: "We’re thrilled to be coming to the White Horse and to Stonesfield.

"We’ve been working together for many years since first meeting at the Boat Inn in Thrupp, and we have a very similar mindset on what we believe a great pub should be.

“Our attraction to running a community pub is exactly that – the community. You are the heartbeat of the White Horse and our mission is to provide reasonably priced great food, local ales and a warm and friendly welcome - whether it’s for a bite to eat, a pint with friends, a coffee and cake, or just to pop in for a chat. Our doors are open to all.”

“We want to create a proper pub that’s accessible to everyone, something there seems to be very few of these days!”

Both have a long history in the hospitality industry. “Catering is in my blood,” said Barbara.

“My late father was an RAF Chef and later head of department at what’s now the City of Oxford College.

"I’ve been working as a chef in Oxfordshire area, most recently at the Black Prince in Woodstock, where Craig and myself took it from strength to strength to be number one on review sites for several years.”

(Image: Oxford Mail) Craig is equally experienced. “I’ve been working in hospitality for 26 years," he said.

"I’ve always had a passion for this industry since a very young age, and started my career at a Spanish restaurant in my home town of Burton-on-Trent, moving to Oxfordshire in the early 2000s to continue my journey to learn about all aspects of the industry.”

The pair are keen to emphasise that the pub will be available for a wide range of meetings and events.

They added: "We’re looking forward to welcoming all groups to the pub including local cycling and walking clubs, work get-togethers, family parties and all kinds of community groups.

"Come and talk to us about any specific catering you would like, or feel free to just pop in for a chat! We want to support the Stonesfield community in any way we can, and I’m sure that by supporting each other we can create something special."

For more visit backthewhitehorse.com

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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