GBPA 2018: What the winners had to say

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

The Morning Advertiser spoke to some of the award winners at the John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards to find out how it felt to win at the ‘pub Oscars’.

The awards took place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, last week (Thursday 6 September), and were supported by John Smith’s, Booker/Makro, Admiral Taverns, CGA, Brothers Drinks, Sky, Ei Group and Diageo.

The Red Lion & Sun, in Highgate, north London, scooped the top title of the UK’s best pub after receiving the title of Best Wine Pub of the Year.

On his win, licensee Heath Ball said: “It is quite overwhelming actually. [After] 12 years of work at the Red Lion & Sun, working really hard, back against the wall sometimes, it is quite overwhelming.

“I don’t cry normally and I am having a bit of a moment right now. It is quite overwhelming.”

Lotto win

He added that winning the awards showed recognition for the hard work the team put in at the pub. He said: “It is people understanding and getting what you do. A lot of the time the general public don’t get what you do and how hard it is. We get to work early and finish late, so it means a lot.

“It reaffirms what you are doing and makes you have confidence in what you are doing - that you aren’t going down the wrong path.”

Ball likened winning the awards to winning the lottery. He said: “It was almost like someone saying you had won the lottery, then you don’t believe it and you have to keep checking that you have. It was like that until I was on stage and then I realised.”

The Phoenix Artist Club in Soho, central London, took home the Best Entertainment Pub of the Year award and owner Ken Wright outlined how much winning meant.

He said: “For a small independent in central London, it just means everything. It is another year of surviving against everyone that doesn't want independent pubs to survive and it means everything. 
“To all the technicians behind the scenes, all those people that just put their effort in to make acts brilliant, to find acts and market acts, this is as much for the people behind the scenes as it is for our front of house staff.”

Award winners

The Crown, at Woolhope, Herefordshire, won Best Cider Pub of the Year for the third time and licensee Matt Slocombe told The Morning Advertiser ​how it felt when the pub was announced as the winner.

He said: “A hat-trick and I am made up. I cannot believe it. I never thought we would do it once, let alone three times, so a massive, massive cheer for all the gang back home.

“We have been championing Herefordshire cider matched with food for nearly 20 years, we have been at the pub 11 years but I have been part of the cider fabric of Herefordshire for nearly 20 years and this is just the cream on the top of it. Lovely. I can't believe it.”

Scottish bar 7 Saints aims to create a new market, rather than something that will adapt to the existing market of Prestwick, in South Ayrshire, and at the awards, it tasted success with the Best Newcomer of the Year gong.

Licensee Nick Livingstone put the venue’s success down to its commitment to staff. He added that the trophy was one that he had been wanting to win for a long time.

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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