Father-of-two is pub’s new landlady

Ashleigh Fitzhugh
Ashleigh Fitzhugh

A tough tackling former footballer has taken over running a village pub - but you would be forgiven for not recognising him behind the bar.

Ashleigh Fitzhugh has become the first transgendered female in Northamptonshire to run a pub and formally took over The Old Red Lion at Kislingbury from on Friday August 23.

Formerly Stuart Fitzhugh, the father-of-two decided to speak out about her past as she takes over the running of the pub in her new persona.

Ashleigh said: “I always knew there was something a little bit different about me.

“But I had a heart attack at the age of 35 and I decided it was the right time to make the change because I wanted to do something for me. I wasn’t looking to shock people, I just wanted to be happy.

“I have been very lucky in that a lot of people have supported my decision. My now ex-wife and I are still good friends.”

The 44-year-old has played football for Long Buckby and Bugbrooke, as well as cricket for teams around the county. She has been undergoing hormone treatment for the last eight years and had a recent operation on her voice box three weeks ago.

Ashleigh said: “The people who know me have commented how much happier I am looking since undergoing the treatment. They see me smiling a lot more now.

“I do get asked a lot of stupid questions by people but there are a lot of friends who have stayed my friends even after the changes and they will look out for me.

“But I haven’t changed, I still take my kids to see Northampton Town and will still shout and scream like every other supporter.”

She took over the running of the pub as it was one of the first pubs she drank in.

Ashleigh said: “I am originally from Harpole and when I was 16, the one thing you never did was drink in the village pub because people know how old you are, so I’d come quite regularly.

“This pub has got a very good reputation for fine dining and I want to keep it that way but also want to add to it. I want to start doing smaller food portions and making the restaurant family friendly.

“I want to put Sky Sports back in and pub games. I want to offer a place in the community for people to come. I’ll be looking to keep everything local and turn this into a place for the whole village community.”

Ashleigh is organising an event to say hello to people in the village with live music coming from Caron Louise which will be starting on Saturday in the evening

She said: “I am feeling scared, nervous, but really excited. It is the perfect place for me to run.”