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Coleshill, Buckinghamshire John Ullman doesn't mince his words. "I feel very privileged to live in the village and run this pub." It seems the...

Coleshill, Buckinghamshire

John Ullman doesn't mince his words. "I feel very privileged to live in the village and run this pub."

It seems the local community feels likewise about John and wife Christine's stewardship over the past 15 years of the Red Lion ­ an InnSpired tenancy that has recently switched ownership to Punch Taverns. The turning point came in 1992 when the only shop in Coleshill closed and since then the Ullmans have opened the pub's doors daily at 9am to enable local residents to buy essential supplies such as bread and milk.

Further support came a few years later when a previous owner wanted to de-license the pub for residential use. The local council and community made it perfectly clear they wouldn't contemplate losing their pub. The Red Lion was reprieved and since then the community has rallied around John and Christine's fundraising activities. Over the past three years, more than £50,000 has been raised for charity ­ the highlight being a cycle ride from Paris to Rome. Fourteen riders took part and £40,000 was raised.

Apart from the Red Lion, the other social activities for the 550 residents of the Chilterns village are centred around the church, school, village hall, horticultural society, cricket club and tennis club. Again, the Ullmans are heavily involved and provide refreshments and a bar, if required, for village functions.

The Red Lion is also host to a number of pub teams. There are three darts teams, two quiz teams, a crib and dominoes team, plus another for petanque. Again, John and Christine spend a lot of time organising the leagues and arranging fixtures. John says: "I get involved because, generally, the number of teams shrink over time unless someone is prepared to put in the effort."

In addition, the couple has introduced the community to two events that have become firmly set in the calendar. On Boxing Day, villagers participate in an improvised game of crazy golf. It starts at the bottom of a hill and golfers try to get their balls up the country lane and finish in the front porch of the pub. The other event sees Morris Dancers celebrate the dawning of May Day. John says: "At the last one, we had around 60 villagers turn up at 5.30am to see the fun."

A mark of the esteem that the local council has towards the Red Lion's indispensable role in the community can be gauged by the 100% relief on its business rate.

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