Devon licensee rewarded for ‘services to real ale’ by CAMRA branch

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Family affair: David Wheeler (right) took over the running of the pub after his parents passed away
Family affair: David Wheeler (right) took over the running of the pub after his parents passed away

Related tags Public house Cask ale Campaign for real ale

A Torquay licensee has been given a one-of-a-kind award by his local branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), for “services to real ale” dating back more than 40 years.

David Wheeler, licensee at the Crown & Sceptre, was given the certificate by South Devon CAMRA for the work done by his family to promote cask beer in the town of Torquay.  

Wheeler told The Morning Advertiser​ he believed that he was the first person to receive such an award, which was presented to him at a recent branch meeting in his pub.

“It is the first award of its kind ever awarded,” he said. “I think they wanted to highlight real ale in Torquay because it is a bit of a dying art down here.”

Lifetime passion

Wheeler’s family has run the Crown & Sceptre for more than 40 years, and Wheeler has been a fixture in the pub since his parents took over the Ei venue when he was just five years old.

The licensee heralded the work of his late mother and father, Heather and Roy, in developing the reputation of the pub. “It's a traditional pub that has been made by and for its locals,” he said. “It's not been bought out of some warehouse.”

The Crown & Sceptre serves up to eight real ales every day, and Wheeler has tried to maintain a focus on wet sales, although he has had to recently increase the food offering to keep the venue afloat.

“There are some very good pubs around Torquay but they tend to be more and more rural and more food-orientated,” he said. “We try to keep this place as wet sales-only but even I am now being forced to do food more just to keep it going.”

'Outstanding contribution'

Speaking about the award, South Devon CAMRA representative Edgar Halton said: “This award recognises the outstanding contribution made by the Wheeler family that has served the local community at the Crown & Sceptre since 1975, providing a fine choice of real ales and furthering the promotion of real ale and CAMRA.

“David’s father, who died in 2012, was succeeded by his wife and when she died, their son David took over the licence. The pub has been listed in Good Beer Guide​ for 37 years since 1975 and is currently in the guide.”

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