A CAMPAIGN backed by comedian Jasper Carrott and thousands of pub goers has resulted in a popular landlord having his lease extended.
Ayman Zahran is the publican of The Red Lion in Claverdon, which he took over from failing tenants in 2009.
The 49-year-old, who employs 15 staff and has seen the pub receive a string of top reviews, is described by villagers as an ‘integral’ part of the community.
But the Egyptian-Italian national was recently faced with having to leave the establishment after freehold owners Enterprise Inns plc said they were terminating his lease agreement.
The local community – including comedian Jasper Carrott and Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi – rallied to help Ayman, even starting a petition which gained thousands of signatures.
Now Enterprise Inns have agreed to extend the lease for another two years, and say there will be discussions about the future of the pub.
A delighted Ayman, who hails from Balsall Common, told the Observer: “I’m so pleased I will be staying on and want to thank everyone who helped me and campaigned with me to get this result.
“My regulars are ecstatic too, they have been buying champagne and celebrating. People were coming in as soon as they heard the news.
“Since the agreement was reached I’ve seen an increase in profits already – people have even started booking for Christmas.
“We didn’t have to hand in the petition in the end and I really hope the Red Lion will stay where it is.”
And Enterprise Inns say they are equally pleased with the agreement.
A spokesman said: “Enterprise Inns and Ayman Zahran are pleased to have agreed terms for an extension of the lease agreement at the Red Lion, whereby Ayman will remain in occupation.
“This will create some space for a variety of options to be explored for 2018 and beyond. Both parties are now looking forward to the future and maintaining a good working relationship together.”
The campaign to keep Ayman at the pub was backed by residents from Claverdon and the surrounding area.
A Facebook group which was started to rally even more support posted messages of delight when they discovered he would be continuing his time at the pub.
One read: “We are all so thrilled. It shows with the determination and drive that all involved have had, when we stand together, we can make an impact and change things for the better.”