Published: 17:18, 13 April 2021
| Updated: 17:34, 13 April 2021
A pub backed by former England footballer Neil 'Razor' Ruddock has opened for the first time – and is already doing a roaring trade.
The Windmill Inn in Hythe Road, Ashford, has been renamed The New Fox Inn after a team of enthusiasts secured a six-year lease.
Former Liverpool and West Ham centre-back Ruddock, who lives in the town, has become one of 25 investors who have all stumped up £2,000 to help fund the project.
Ashford DJ John 'Webbo' Webster is a key figure behind the takeover after first thinking of the idea during the original national lockdown.
The team had hoped to open before Christmas, but were finally able to welcome the first pub-goers yesterday.
"We had a queue of people wanting to get in," Mr Webster says.
"With other pubs, they're just reopening, but it's a new regime for us and it's gained a lot of momentum.
"We weren't sure how it would go because no one knew about the weather, but people had booked days off to go there and it was great.
"There was a constant flow of people who were all doing the right thing."
Owned by the Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns, the pub's lease had been advertised for a number of years.
Mr Webster says Ruddock – who earned one England cap during his career – will "always be a focal point" of the pub.
"He's quite keen not to make it all about him, but it's going to be like that because of what he's done in his career," Mr Webster said.
"His personality is as big as he is and he's not trying to hog the glory of it all.
"The pub is like a snowball that's just getting bigger – it's just got bigger and bigger in front of our very eyes and yesterday was testament to that."
Three-hundred people enjoyed the Willesborough site yesterday, with "good pub grub" on offer including burgers and chillis.
Mr Webster thanked the numerous Ashford companies which have helped with the project – including sanitary firm Ecosan Services and Ashford Window Tints.
"We have had lots of little favours from lots of different people," Mr Webster added.
"I didn't know it was going to be as big as it has become, and it feels like a real community pub.
"We have football teams who want to use it and we have even had to turn a couple of teams away."
From May 17, Mr Webster hopes people will be able to go inside the pub, which can seat 46 people downstairs and will feature a restaurant area on the first floor.
Just before 10pm yesterday, a moped rider was hit by a car outside the pub and friends have left flowers at the junction with Hunter Road today.
Pubgoers rushed to the 18-year-old's aid, giving first aid and CPR before he was taken to hospital in London.