A PUB which was brought back to life as the centre of a village community’s life is expanding at a time when 18 pubs a week are closing across the UK.

The Vane Arms in Long Newton, off the A66 near Stockton, was empty for two-and-a-half years before Jill and Paul Jackson re-opened it.

Since then the couple has released a regular village newsletter, helped breathe life into the annual garden party, established the Ladies What Lunch club encourage women to venture in to the pub on their own and employed only local youngsters.

And the community focus has been such a success that the landlords are now turning the upstairs into a B&B.

Mr Jackson said: “In these days of doom and gloom about pubs it’s good to have good news about investment in village pubs and the creation of new jobs which demonstrates that there are people trying, despite what many pub owning companies are doing, to buck the trend and help protect the future of community life in rural villages.”

The couple reopened the pub in 2009 and it was featured in the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide in 2012. The pub can trace its history to the 18th Century.