With this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards just around the corner, the time has come for the public to vote for their favourite Community Pub Of The Year - in town and rural areas.
A list of finalists has now been drawn up by a panel of judges; each entry having been nominated by the pubs’ own locals.
The Community Pub Of The Year - Town finalists are Northampton pubs, The Golden Horse, The Lamplighter, The Malt Shovel Tavern and The Olde England.
Meanwhile, the finalists in the Community Pub Of The Year - Rural category are The George & Dragon in Chacombe, The Red Lion in Bozeat, The Saracen’s Head in Little Brington and The Sun Inn in Hardingstone.
Dave Collins, of Collins Fresh Produce (the category sponsor) said: “Here we have a group of people who demonstrate a huge passion and dedication to their customers and communities and they should all be congratulated for the huge amount of energy they generate to drive their businesses on.”
Both categories are being supported by the Chronicle & Echo and Northamptonshire Telegraph. Voting is taking place until September 30. Votes can be cast by completing a form in the venue itself or by voting online at www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk
The winners of these titles, as well as those who have clinched the other 11 categories in this year’s Food and Drink Awards, will be announced at a dinner taking place at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton on Thursday, October 17. Tickets cost £90. Call 01933 664437 or email email@example.com.
Here is what the pub managers had to say...
The Golden Horse, Northampton
“We were surprised, shocked and happy to be on the shortlist,” said Golden Horse landlady Alana Kitchener. “I think we have tried to turn the pub around.
“We do quite a bit for the community, we have the local Mencap homes coming in on Friday nights and there are adults with learning difficulties who come in and sing karaoke. We have several football teams and we support the Cynthia Spencer Hospice.”
She said: “On a Monday we do a karaoke club from 4pm until 7pm and that is great for pensioners, it is almost like Friday night to them.”
Brothers Paul and James Hanna bought The Lamplighter four years ago and the pub has gone from strength to strength, winning the Community Pub Of The Year - Town category in 2010-2011.
The pub is proud to get involved with fund-raising as well as supporting local groups by providing meeting spaces. The team has also got involved with supporting local events such as the Umbrella Fair and the NNestival show.
Paul said: “I think the Lamplighter has always been a nice cosy back street pub but needed a bit of love putting into it and we have worked hard at it.”
The Malt Shovel Tavern
Another former winner in the Community Pub - Town category (2011-2012) is The Malt Shovel Tavern.
Owner Mike Evans said: “We were amazed by the support we were given by customers who voted for us online. At the pub we do lots of simple things; on a charity basis we hold several charity events in the year. Things we have done have included racing nights and most of the charities we support are in the community. We have raised several thousand pounds for Mencap.”
The Olde England
“We were really pleased to be shortlisted and are happy people like our unique pub,” said Olde England landlord Paul Hepworth.
Paul, who runs the pub with his wife Alyson, hosts popular events such as a regular folk night in which locals are in vited to bring in their own instruments. The pub also sells the produce of many local breweries.
Paul said: “We are on the perimeter of town and there is an interesting mix of people who live here and that lends itself to it being an unusual place.”
The George & Dragon, Chacombe
Last year’s finalists, The George & Dragon, will have another chance to win the coveted Community Pub Of The Year - Rural title this year.
Landlord John Tipson said: “We are doing lots of things in the community. We are delivering a couple of meals a week to an elderly couple, we have created a football team, we have a chess club. There is a 13-year-old girl who makes bread in the village and we use that in our antipasti sides. There are lots of activities we do that make us stand out.”
The Red Lion, Bozeat
“We were absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted in our first year of trading,” said David Archer, owner of the Red Lion in Bozeat.
David has run the pub with his wife Ingrid and their friend Theresa Houseman since last June.
He said: “I think it is because we have met the needs of the community. We put on regular events during the year, special food nights. We have raised more than £3,000 for local charities and put on special events for the Poppy Appeal last year. We did special teas for the British Legion and that raised about £700.”
The Saracen’s Head, Little Brington
The Saracen’s Head has an impressive record when it comes to these awards.
As well as being a finalist this year, they have previously been runner-up in this category and winners of the Best Pub Restaurant title.
Landlady Sarah Evans said: “I think it is always a good thing to have these sorts of awards, it is good for the community itself to recognise we are part of the village, we are not just a pub in the village.”
The pub takes an active part in local life, providing a range of services including book lending and acting as a meeting place for groups doing activities such as yoga.
The Sun Inn, Hardingstone
Owned by The McManus Pub Company and run by Andy Pye and Cara Robinson, The Sun Inn takes community spirit seriously.
The team’s achievements have included helping to raise £25,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and other local charities and getting involved with events such as the village fete and the activities of the Beaver and Scout groups. They also allow some local organisations to use the pub’s meeting room for free.
Andy said: “We won in the year 2011 to 2012 and it is fantastic to even get to the final again. I think we are a young pub but old-fashioned in our values.”