Ten pubs have been named as finalists in the Community Pub Hero Awards, organised by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) and sponsored by Matthew Clark.
The shortlisted pubs all impressed the judges with their support for local communities during the Covid lockdowns, whether by offering vital supplies for residents, cooking hot meals for the elderly or countering social isolation through online quizzes or chats. The awards attracted 115 entries, including 60 from MPs who nominated pubs in their constituencies, as well as direct submissions from pubs. The finalists will now be judged and the overall winner announced later this spring in an online presentation event attended by finalists and their MPs.
This is the third year for the competition, which has been reshaped and renamed – it was formerly Charity Pub of the Year – to focus on community support rather than traditional charity fundraising. Despite pubs being closed for much of the entry window, more entries were received than for the last competition in 2019. Judging was carried out by a panel of experts drawn from across the pub industry.
The 10 shortlisted pubs are:
- The Angel & Crown, Richmond
- The Bevy, Brighton
- The Bowgie Inn, Crantock near Newquay, Cornwall
- The Clifton Arms, Blackburn
- The Horse & Jockey, Melling, Merseyside
- The Mowden, Darlington
- The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren, Basingstoke
- The Old Courts, Wigan
- The Orange Tree, Baldock, Hertfordshire
- The Portobello Inn, West Kingsdown, Kent
PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Our heartfelt congratulations go to these pubs, who have all earned their place in the finals by going the extra mile and beyond during the lockdowns. Traditional, event-led charity fundraising in pubs was made next to impossible when pubs had to close in March last year, but that didn’t stop licensees and their teams from doing all they could to support their local communities, despite frequently facing hardship and uncertainty themselves.
“Choosing the 10 finalists was a real challenge for the judges, as every pub who entered had a strong story to tell. Those who have reached the shortlist should be very proud of their achievement.”
Richard Hayhoe, Marketing Director, Matthew Clark added: “We were delighted to support this competition for a third year and pleased with the response from pubs and the many MPs who nominated a ‘hero’ in their constituency. The fantastic work done by so many licensees and teams during the lockdowns and periods of restricted trading over the last year have provided a vital lifeline to countless people, and prove that pubs are genuinely a force for good in their communities.”
Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “These awards have been a great opportunity for MPs to celebrate how landladies and landlords in their constituencies have stepped up to the mark to support their community during the pandemic. Yet again we have seen that pubs are the antidote to isolation.”
The Angel & Crown, Richmond
Licensee: Nick Botting
MP: Sarah Olney
The team at this Fuller’s pub, led by licensee Nick Botting, jumped into action as soon as lockdown was announced, providing hot food and drinks, clothing and toiletries to anyone in need, as well as pairing with local homeless organisation SPEAR to help find accommodation for people. At the height of the first lockdown, they were serving up to 70 people a day, initially funded by Nick but as demand grew, local residents stepped up to continue the service. In total, the Angel & Crown served 5,000 hot meals, 6,000 cups of tea and 7,000 bottles of water to local people in need.
The Bevy, Brighton
Licensee: Chris Llewellyn
MP: Lloyd Russell-Moyle
When lockdown was announced in March 2020, the Bevy’s team of volunteers and staff decided they would cook and deliver hot meals three times a week to ensure that none of the elderly attendees of our regular lunch clubs went hungry. Delivering the Bevy Meals on Wheels provided not just dinner, but a friendly face and socially distanced chat, as most of these people were self-isolating. The team worked with local schools, churches, charities and community groups and with Fareshare, to use ingredients that would otherwise have gone to land fill. The team served more than 6,000 meals and staged a number of online pub quizzes to keep the community connected, including the world’s first online deaf-friendly quiz. On the August Bank Holiday, the Bevy hosted a free family fun day offering socially-distanced arts crafts and fun for local children.
The Bowgie Inn, Newquay, Cornwall
Licensee and owner: Sally Pickles
MP: Steve Double
The Bowgie Inn used its position overlooking beautiful Crantock beach to offer people uplifting support and compassion during lockdown. Every day, owner Sally Pickles streamed daily live video streams from the beach on social media, so people were able to experience the magic of Cornwall, with thousands of viewers watching and hundreds commenting, not just in the UK, but around the world. People shared their memories of Cornwall, and it was clear the daily videos were making lockdown life a little bit easier as they enjoyed the sound of the sea, watched the waves and stayed connected to the coast. In addition, The Bowgie hosted virtual live music gigs raising money for the NHS, streamed on Facebook straight to people’s living rooms (watched by over 20,000 people), as well as a Virtual Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, an Easter Drawing Competition, free weekly Virtual Live Yoga sessions and ‘thank you’ campaigns giving out Bowgie vouchers to local heroes on the front-line of the pandemic.
The Clifton Arms, Blackburn
Licensee: Carole Davis
MP: Kate Hollern
When Covid and lockdown struck, the team at Admiral Taverns pub The Clifton Arms were determined to stay connected with their community. Led by licensee Carole Davis, the team started sending out boxes of essential groceries to vulnerable locals. They sent fruit baskets to keep staff at local hospitals and care homes healthy, provided TVs and radios for care home residents, and hot meals and warm clothing for the homeless. At the start of lockdown, they donated 60 Easter lunches for local postal workers. Just as importantly, Carole and her team are always available to help anyone in need. As one local said: “It doesn’t matter what a person asks for, this community pub and its landlord and landlady, and a team of dedicated customers, will make sure they get it.”
The Horse & Jockey, Melling, Merseyside
Licensees: Adam & Suzanne Franklin
MP: Bill Esterton
Licensees Adam & Suzanne Franklin at Ei pub The Horse & Jockey, cooked and delivered a total of 15,000 free hot meals to vulnerable and shielding local residents, sent out 1,000 care packages, shopped for the community and collected and dropped off medication. They also ran a ‘listening ear’ service, calling everyone on their hot meal service to check on them and offer a chat. In all of this, they were helped by a band of 50 volunteers, who came forward within hours of an appeal from Suzanne. After the end of the first lockdown, the pub created a permanent community kitchen to continue helping those in need.
The Mowden, Darlington
Licensees: Simon & Rachel Leadbetter
MP: Peter Gibson
When The Mowden shut its doors in March 2020, licensees Simon & Rachel Leadbetter offered to turn their surplus food stock into meals for local vulnerable people. Their Facebook post led to around 40 meals being delivered in the first week of lockdown, and as word spread – with local press and the BBC covering the story – requests flooded in. Over the next 10 weeks, Simon & Rachel and a team of helpers worked six days a week to deliver 900 meals to elderly and vulnerable locals, funded by £9,500 in donations to a justgiving page. Simon said: “It was a difficult time for the business, but helping others in our community really helped us and gave us a focus in such strange times.”
The Old Courts, Wigan
Licensee: Rebecca Davenport
MP: Lisa Nandy
The team at the Old Courts, led by licensee Rebecca Davenport, delivered 700 food parcels to local people in need, and a further 10,000 packed lunches to children during school holidays. They also made over 900 phone calls to isolated residents. The pub supports a number of local arts and music community projects so during lockdown they also collected unwanted musical instruments for children who wanted to learn but couldn’t afford an instrument – a great way to turn lockdown into a learning opportunity for youngsters. Other groups helped by the Old Courts include the Wigan Autistic Theatre Company, School of Rock and Over-50 Jammers.
The Orange Tree, Baldock, Hertfordshire
MP: Oliver Heald
On the day after lockdown, licensee Rob Scahill decided to turn his pub into a shop. Within a couple of days, he had stocked his store by reaching out to suppliers, staff and friends offering to volunteer, and help from Greene King. With this support to make the shop viable, Rob chose to make it a not-for-profit operation and, in flash of inspiration, added 20% to the cost price of items with that amount going to a new Baldock Musicians Support Fund – founded by Rob to support local musicians who would be struggling without the pub gigs they relied upon to make ends meet. The Orange Tree shop opened every day, firstly for ‘priority’ customers including vulnerable and NHS workers, giving them a safe shopping environment before it opened to other residents. Rob also continued the pub’s much-loved quiz going through lockdown, with more than 100 people joining online every Tuesday. Rob said: “I am so proud to be able to say that I never closed my doors. The Baldock Musicians Fund is now closed but in the 15 weeks from the first Saturday of lockdown, we raised an utterly incredible £22,119.25.”
The Portobello Inn, West Kingsdown, near Sevenoaks, Kent
MP: Laura Trott
At the start of lockdown and the height of panic buying, the team at the Portobello were concerned about the possible impact on local elderly and vulnerable, who might not have enough food to eat. Licensees Charmain and Steven Powell decided to make use of stock they had in the kitchen and put a message out to the community offering homemade lasagne, making 18 deliveries in the village. Next week, the number increased to 70 meals and as word spread, they appealed for donations of money and food ingredients. Soon, they were delivering two hot meals a day, 2 or 3 times a week, to 100 people. Hearing about the great work the pub was doing, the COOK branch in Sevenoaks offered to help, and this partnership saw the number of meals increase to 170, and include a number of NHS workers.
The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren, Basingstoke
Licensee: Rich Curtis
MP: Maria Miller
Rich Curtis, GM at this Hall & Woodhouse pub, launched a virtual pub quiz on Facebook Live at the end of March 2020, as a way of bringing a pub experience to locked down customers in their homes. The response was enthusiastic and soon the quiz was running twice a day: a family-friendly one at 5.00 pm – staged with help from Rich’s 9-year-old son Oliver – and one for adults at 8.00. Participants could join for free, but were asked to make a donation to a charity, chosen by the pub and changing every week. Within a few weeks, the quizzes had raised more than £9,000 for charity and had more than 100, 000 views, not just from the UK but globally. Every week, Rich came up with a new theme for the quiz to keep it fresh, and had a few star guests. In May, Rich broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest quiz master session, achieving a 34-hour and 11-minute quiz which raised more than £21,000 for The Pink Place Cancer Charity in Basingstoke. In total, the Portsmouth Arms quizzes have raised close to £50,000 for charities.