A LANDLORD who spent £50,000 transforming a derelict pub into a hub for the community is desperately trying to stay afloat.

James Thompson, 30, took over the Star and Garter in 2018 with his partner, completely changing the site around, filling 25 skips with rubble and rubbish.

Last year should have seen the pair start earning a return from their investment, but lockdown plunged the pub's future into uncertainty.

Now, the passionate landlord has set up a GoFundMe page to help keep the taps running.

He said: "We're the same as everyone really, just trying to get through all this, it's just difficult.

"Unfortunately, like many others we've found ourselves struggling to put food on the table, each month has been like a game of Russian Roulette with the bills.

"We don't want to lose the pub, our rent's more expensive than the grants available to us and we live in the pub too so we've got to pay the bills on top of that.

"We don't want to get to the point where we can reopen and we just can't afford to buy the stock in."

In 2008, Mr Thompson took a job at a pub called the Star and Garter in Hull, where he worked without pay for six weeks to try and keep the business afloat.

He became homeless during this time, living in a graveyard to help the owners.

Ten years later, a pub of the same name came up on the market in Bolton, reminding him of his old job.

After transforming the establishment, Mr Thompson was disappointed to be closed four times in 2020, even applying to Bolton Council for permission to turn the pub into a shop to allow some trade.

He added: "I think a pub is not just a place where people go to consume alcohol, it's a place that always has its door open to strangers.

"Landlords should be there, waiting inside to hear about your day, listen to your problems, and be that person that tells you it is going to be ok.

"That's what I wanted for the Star and Garter when it came up on the market, it seemed like fate had reminded me of the previous one I had worked in.

"Our customers are amazing, and their patience has been overwhelming, they are a bunch of very special people.

"Any help we can get would really mean everything to us during this time, I just want to thank the people that have already donated, they are something special and I will never forget what they've done for us."

Visit gofundme.com/f/please-help-the-star to donate to the campaign.