We asked three more of last year's winners what receiving the award did for them, and if they would recommend entering the competition to other publicans (the resounding answer was yes!).
Best Newcomer: The White Mare, Beckermet, Cumbria
The White Mare in Beckermet, Cumbria, is the first site taken on by husband-and-wife Iain and Dianne Irving.
Prior to a joint investment at the Star Pubs & Bars leasehold, the villagers stopped their habit of visiting the pub and were desperate for a family and community outlet. “The White Mare did not disappoint and, with turnover up 10-fold, is now thriving”, The Morning Advertiser (MA) reported at the time.
About winning the award, Iain said: “It was very positive for us, once we announced that we got the award it really consolidated that we were doing well. We did see an increase in business when the year went on. It’s been a big benefit to us.”
Iain said that he will be applying again this year for the awards, due to the GBPA not only “boosting business”, but being an “excellent event” as well.
“Definitely go for it,” is his advice. “There are obviously some great pubs around the country, and it seems a shame that some won’t apply. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
At the time of the prize giving, MA reported that: “The customers are equally smitten with their new community hub, which is planning to add coffee mornings and a newspaper stall to boosts its popularity on top of existing mother and toddler mornings, senior citizen lunches, quizzes, vinyl nights, beer and food pairing, karaoke, tapas and barbecues.”
Best Student Pub: Doctor’s Orders, Sheffield
Best Student Pub was a new category for 2016 and attracted a strong entry from a wide range of pubs that were aiming their offer towards the student market.
Beating off such strong competition was the Doctor’s Orders in Sheffield.
Matt Steer, owner of the Doctor’s Orders, said: “[Winning] was great. We got some great photos to use for promos and we’ve put the award up behind the bar.
“It’s difficult to measure exactly how the award in itself has continued our uplift as we are only a couple of years old and we have had incremental growth year-on-year as we’ve been growing. But we have definitely had a very good year.”
Since winning the award, Steer has begun investing in the site’s kitchen, replacing some equipment to streamline the operation for its chefs.
Further investment down the line was a definite possibility in light of the win, he said.
“Our year runs along with the academic year – it finishes around the 10 June. So we’ll have that period to do some stuff with the venue, but I haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet.”
Best Community Pub: Firbank Pub & Kitchen, Manchester
Pubs are often at the heart of their communities, so taking home the Community Pub of the Year title is no mean feat, but when it comes to being part of its area, few that could come close to the Firbank Pub & Kitchen in Wythenshawe, Manchester.
Driven by operators Simon and Rachael Delaney, this pub has carved out a real niche in an area that doesn’t lack challenges, but the pair have made the pub a real focal point for the area.
However, the success still surprised Simon: “The feeling on the night was unbelievable. We really didn’t expect to win because our competition was very strong, so when it was announced it was like my birthday, Christmas and New Year and more all in one. It’s an amazing feeling to say ‘welcome to the Best Community Pub In Great Britain’.”
He said winning the award gave the pub a real edge against the surrounding competition and they are still benefiting from that success almost a year on.
He urges other operators to enter the awards, and says it can help re-energise a business in ways he never realised: “I have been in the business for 22 years and thought things couldn’t get any better. Winning the award allowed me to take The Firbank Pub & Kitchen to another level that I didn’t think was possible. I should have entered years ago!”