Catriona Galbraith, joint owner of the reopened Greyhound Inn, Letcombe Regis, tells us about her life-changing year after taking over the pub

It started as a bit of village banter one January evening, putting the world to rights; a couple of villagers speculating about what it would be like to have an amazing pub in the village – right on the doorstep.

Somewhere they could pop in for a pint any day of the week, and most likely come across a few friends with the same idea.

Somewhere they could take their friends and family for a lovely meal, and somewhere comfortable, clean and characterful where they could put up visitors for the night.

But back to reality: with the sign on the wall in front of them saying “Pub closing January 22nd 2014”, it didn’t seem possible.

By November 2014 the deal was done. We now owned our village pub.

A complete life-change in a moment. From strategy consulting in London and being at home with children, we were writing business plans, drawing up design ideas with the architect and putting in planning applications to transform this beautiful, but neglected, old building into something special.

Twelve months on, here we are.

Some villagers who had a privileged sneak preview have described the transformation as “jaw-dropping”. That’s nice to hear after endless months of hard work, stress and worry.

We have done hours of research, and think we have nailed the essence of a proper village pub.

Along the way we met a wonderful couple called Lidia and Phil who were running an award-winning pub in north Oxfordshire.

We were delighted when they agreed to come and work with us to build our business around some marvellous food and drink and superb customer service. We hope you will agree that they know their stuff.

It is exciting to be opening our doors at last to not only our patient and thirsty fellow villagers but to residents of nearby Wantage and the surrounding villages, to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, to visitors.

Not to mention dogs too (bar only) and children.

What we are offering those that come through our doors is a friendly and welcoming smile and comfortable and relaxing surroundings.

We have a fantastic selection of beers, wines and other drinks, and a menu full of delicious and inventive freshly cooked dishes, alongside some great pub classics. Upstairs, we also have eight lovely individual ensuite bedrooms.

The support we have had from the village has been tremendous. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to our venture and we hope that everyone will be pleased with the result.

What we are trying to create is a hub for the village and hope that all the clubs and groups that used to use the pub will come back to us, from musicians and gardeners to book readers and singers.

We are also looking forward to showing off the beautiful countryside nearby. It’s been a roller coaster of a journey and this week is the pinnacle. We couldn’t have done it without lots of help.

The builders have been fantastic and our architect has been tireless (but then, as it’s her local, she has a vested interest in creating a fabulous venue). Lots of people have gone the extra mile for us and we are extremely grateful.

So back to the speculative dream over a pint – we think it has come true and hope that you will visit us and agree that the experience we offer is second to none.

Let Lidia and Phil look after you and you will be in for a treat.