MIKE and Debbie Mount (pictured) have a simple philosophy in life - "if it's working, don't mend it".

So, when they took over the lease of The Star Inn, at Ponthir, five weeks ago they allowed the successful pub, apart from an ongoing £20,000 refurbishment, to tick over as normal.

Mike was more than happy to keep on the former staff, including highly- organised day manager Jane Nettley and the pub's equally well-known "John, the chef".

"We're keeping the restaurant as it is," said Mike. That's good news for the scores of pensioners who daily enjoy their speciality freshly cooked lunches and for the evening diners who follow the mouth-watering creative talents of chef John.

But one thing is certain, there will no a la carte meals in the bar area. Mike was very firm about this. "The bar area is for the local people, from whom we have had such a wonderful welcome.

"There will be bar meals, but we intend to keep the bar area as it is, a place where the locals can come and have a drink and chat with their friends." All in all it's good news for The Star that, over the years, has become a focal point for the village.

While I was at the pub last week I was told its delightful beer garden was being readied for the summer and both Mike and Debbie are hoping it will be a good one.

The couple have thought about keeping a pub for most of their 19-years married life but they just never got round to it. But, after the appalling terrorist attack on New York last year ,life for Mike changed dramatically.

Whereas before he had been travelling the world - he was part of an international freight-forwarding company - trade slumped.

"I decided it was time to change to something else. As we had always wanted to keep a pub that is what we decided to do."

Debbie, who had been a doctor's part-time receptionist in Cardiff, couldn't have been more delighted. As Mike explained: "We don't come new to the business as such.

"My family have had pubs and clubs so fundamentally we know about the trade. "This is our first venture on our own and ,with the support of the local people, we know it will be successful," he said.

"We've had some wonderful support from Jane Nettley and from local businessman Alan Hale, who knows all there is to know about cellars and keeping beer at the right temperature!"