PUB owners in the gay scene are donating hundreds of pounds worth of gifts for free to hard-up families for Christmas.

Lee Cockshott, 42, and Simon Ebers, 45, run Le Village, Marine Tavern, and the Regency Tavern in Brighton.

Together the business partners will donate gender neutral toys and selection boxes for all families who may be struggling.

Mr Cockshott, who owns Le Village in High Street, Kemptown and the Marine Tavern in nearby Broad Street, said he was inspired after seeing a post on Facebook by his friend Claire Fuller.

He said that despite the troubles for pubs and bars across the city, he felt there were many others worse off.

So the two venues will be handing out toys and gifts for families who may be unable to afford Christmas presents for their children.

He said: “Lots of people are having a bad time, and I saw a Facebook post asking people not to start bragging about their Christmas presents and shopping this year.

“It is going to be difficult for a lot of families with some barely able to pay rent.

“Simon and I thought that even though we have lost money over the past year, we are still in a better position.

“So we have put £500 worth together for presents. We haven’t done it before, but thought this year it is a small gesture to help.

“I know around here there are lots of people struggling. I have lived here for ten years so it is not just my business, it’s my community, so it makes you feel a little bit responsible.”

Mr Cockshott said the gifts will be handed out from the Marine Tavern from 5pm today (Wednesday) and from Le Village from midday on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

He said it will be first come, first served, and there will not be means tests, and added he hoped that only those in genuine need would come forward.

Toys will be appropriate for all children, he said.

The pub owner is preparing to reopen his venues off St James’s Street in Brighton this week as the city comes out of the second coronavirus lockdown into tier two restrictions.

He said that this year he has lost about five months of regular trade out of the year, and said he has been worried by the closure of other LGBT venues including Bar Broadway in Steine Street last month.

But his plan is to reopen again and offer food to customers this week.

He said there are also plans to help with meals for some of the hard-up families who come in to visit.

For more information about the venues reopening visit Marine Tavern or Le Village Brighton on Facebook.