They're the couple who have transformed their local into a pub for the whole community after saving it from closure a year ago.

Russell and Clara Ship took over The Stile Inn in Shirley in February 2023 and got to work on a complete refurbishment of the pub's interior. 

Now they're introducing a new outside area at the front of the pub, on Shirley Road, and a garden upgrade and kitchen will soon follow. 

Daily Echo: Outside The Stile Inn

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The Stile had been Russell's local for 30 years before he started working behind the bar there and he's worked hard to provide a welcoming environment.

Russell said: "We did a six week overhaul of the place, it was very run down and needed a lot of work and a bit of money spent on it.

"I had worked here for 18 months before and had been helping the landlady, who is a friend, with various meetings and things. It got to the end of the lease and she said she was giving it up, then they asked me if I wanted it. The brewery said if you don't take it, we're going to get rid of it and we decided to take it on. 

"It's been brilliant, dramatic at times, but great. There's always something to do and get on with to make the pub better, more attractive for customers. 

"It's a real community pub where everyone is welcome, very family orientated and we wanted to bring it back to that and not just a biker bar like before when lots of people felt alienated."

Daily Echo: Behind the bar at The Stile Inn

Customers raised £1,000 to install a defibrillator outside the pub, and have boosted the coffers of several other local charities during various fundraisers. 

The Stile, which shows live sports on both Sky and TNT, has a weekly quiz, regular live music and boasts four pool teams and a darts team. 

Historic pictures, dating as far back as the 19th Century, adorn the bar and one of the shots will be recreated this summer when locals head off on a 'jolly boys outing' to the races at Goodwood. 

Daily Echo: A historic picture of The Stile Inn