A Doncaster couple came west to buy a holiday home and bought a pub instead.

John and Hailey Stokoe were going to buy a holiday home in Silloth.

"As we were driving back, we stopped in the Red Lion pub car park. Someone told us it was for sale."

A local resident told them it had been closed down.

Mr Stokoe, 50, who was director of a software company where he had worked for 33 years, until 2019, said buying the pub was "pure sentiment."

"I hate to see all these British pubs closing.I do get a bit passionate about it - so I bought this one."

He admitted that either he not Hailey, 37, had ever been involved in the hospitality industry in any way but were looking forward to opening a pub that locals will enjoy.

The couple have been working tirelessly on refurbishing the pub for many months - and causing a talking point in town.

Speculation about who the new owners were and what they intended to do has been rife in the town but the couple themselves have been quite happy to talk to whoever asked.

Mr Stokoe said he has already discovered the friendliness of the people of Aspatria.

"There has been a great reaction so far.

"The pub seems to be on a dog walking route and people stop and ask how we are getting on.

"Lots of people have also seen me working on the pub. I have been doing it up since April last year. As well as asking about the pub, we have had several offers of help. It has been great,"

He said he believed people would enjoy the pub.

"We have spent a lot of time on it. We have not done anything to the building itself, it has mainly been cosmetic but I think people will see a big difference."

The couple are still living in Doncaster but Mr Stokoe is commuting to carry out all the work that needs to be done.

They will move to Aspatria when the pub opens.

Mr Stokoe has two grown children and is not sure how many of the family will be hear.

"One is at university and one in the army, so at this point I don't know who will be here."

When the Government announced that pubs could only open if they were serving meals, the Stokoes invested in some new kitchen equipment.

They have decided, in the meantime, however, to run a wet pub until they get established.

"We will look at serving meals further down the line - probably by Christmas time."

The couple came to West Cumbria looking for a place to relax - a place to go when they were feeling tired and just wanted some rest and relaxation. Instead t=hey have found a lot of hard work but are excited about the new venture and their new home and the new pub which will open on May 26.