The county’s first transgender landlady is set to take over a popular village pub, eight years after the father-of-two started a new life as a woman.
Ashleigh Fitzhugh will take over The Olde Red Lion, in Kislingbury, tomorrow, marking a new era for the pub.
The 44-year-old, who was born Stuart Fitzhugh, is believed to be Northamptonshire’s first transgender landlady.
She said: “The regulars I have met in the pub so far have been great. But, having said that, I have never had any animosity thrown at me.
“Whatever people see me as is up to them.”
Born in Harpole, Ashleigh attended Campion School and played football for Bugbrooke and Long Buckby, as well as cricket for Northampton Saints and Kislingbury.
However, it was a heart attack, suffered when aged just 35 and living as a married father-of-two, that prompted Ashleigh to “come out” and begin his new life as a woman.
Ashleigh said: “I haven’t shouted it from the roof tops but, because I’m from the area, everyone knows and everyone within a five-mile radius heard about it.
“But if someone has a problem with it, it is because they don’t know me. People who know me, whether it is friends or family, say I am still the same person.”
Having bought the pub, Ashleigh said she now cannot wait to get behind the bar.
She added: “One way or another, I will make it a success. I am really excited about it but I am slightly nervous as well.”
Ashleigh said she was not aware of another transgender publican in the area: “As far as I am aware, I will be the first. If there is anyone else then they are not open about it.”
Speaking about when she “came out”, Ashleigh said: “The first person I told was my best friend.
“I took him out for a meal and it got to the end and the pub was closing, but I hadn’t had enough to drink.
“So we went back to his house and after a bottle of port, I told him.”