2023 GBPA winners share pride in being named the UK’s best

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Competition underway: this year's Great British Pub Awards entry process is now open
Competition underway: this year's Great British Pub Awards entry process is now open

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Ahead of 2024 Great British Pub Awards, we caught up with some of last year’s winners to find out how their success has impacted business.
  • If you want to be in with a chance of receiving this boost too, enter this year's Great British Pub Awards here​.

The Cholmondeley Arms took home the title of Best Country/Rural Pub before being named the overall Great British Pub of the Year.

The Cholmondeley Arms was first presented with the Best Country/Rural Pub Award before being named the Great British Pub of the Year 2023.

Tim Bird, owner and operator of Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars, which owns the Cholmondeley Arms, told The Morning Advertiser​: “We have definitely seen a lot of new faces since winning the award.

“It has also helped the accommodation side of the business too, which is great. The ‘Chum’ is a seasonal pub being so rural and of course, the weather has been pretty challenging but we are in growth compare to last year and I’m certain the award has helped.”

Being awarded as the Best Pub to Watch Sport meant the Royal Dyche in Burnley, Lancashire saw the pub receive lots of media exposure in the local press.

The Royal Dyche in Burnley was named Best Pub for Sport in 2023.

Licensee Justine Bedford said: “As an independent pub in Burnley, I was thrilled to be recognised on a national scale.

“I really didn’t expect to win the award and was blown away when the pub’s name was read out.

“I’ve been here for almost 11 years and put so much hard work and money into the business so it’s a great feeling for these efforts to pay off.

“To be up against some of the big companies in the industry and win shows how far we have come as an outlet. I couldn’t have been prouder of myself and my team.”

Local media interest was something the Gaggle of Geese near Dorchester, Dorset also benefitted from after its garden was awarded the best in the country.

Operators Sarah and Simon Colquhoun said: “We are tucked away with no passing trade and some 10 miles to the nearest town so it was a great way to raise awareness and profile.

“We won the award in September, just as the garden was starting to wind down after the summer but we have seen a lot of function and wedding bookings come in for this summer – all of which are keen to have a garden party vibe.

“[We are] already pretty much fully booked for weddings this year and are now taking bookings for 2025.”

The Gaggle of Geese was presented with the Best Pub Garden award at the 2023 Great British Pub Awards.

Achievement recognition

The duo took the pub on in 2018 and could see the potential in the garden, which is about five acres.

Upon the announcement of the Gaggle of Geese being named Best Pub Garden, Sarah and Simon added: “It was a really proud moment for us. We run the pub as a family and bought it after it had been closed for several years.

“[We] came in with a falling in roof and completely wild garden! We initially had to focus our time and money on refurbishing the pub building.

“Then, over the past few years, we have been continuing to tame and develop the garden. We could really see the garden could be a unique space that would make us a destination and thus, make the pub viable.

“The award was recognition of everything we have achieved over the past few years.”

The Kings Arms in Bexleyheath, south-east London shared its journey of the awards on its social channels.

“The attention we had afterwards was definitely noticeable,” said licensee Pete Marshall.

“The story leading up to the awards helped with this for sure as everyone was engaged and so lots visited after to congratulate.

“Equally, with regards to entertainment in general, we found more contact with people that wanted to play at the pub or be associated with it.”

When the venue was named Best Pub for Entertainment, staff celebrated in style while collecting the award.

Pete added: “It meant everything to the team, as the dancing on the stage showed on the night itself! We’ve had a team of people working on what we do for several years and so to see everyone enjoying the moment and being recognised for their party of that meant lots to the entire team.

“The plaque is proudly displayed on the bar and brings plenty of conversation.”

He also outlined the importance of the rigorous entry awards process to his business and how it helped engage customers.

Best-Pub-for-Entertainment-in-the-UK-2023 (1)
The team at the Kings Arms celebrated their win live on stage.

Reason to celebrate

Pete added: “The entire journey of the Great British Pub Awards is just fun and engaging. We are, of course, proud to have won the award we did but going through the process helped us learn about who we are and pushes us to assess what we do and why. In itself, [it’s] a huge eye opener.

“The process of going through the rounds gave us the energy in social media and a story to follow. Win or not, I know guests and those living locally followed the story and kept watching our socials, this helped promote what we do as part of that.

“The awards itself was a reason to celebrate the team and the pub as well as galvanise who we are as a group. It’s nothing but a fun, positive experience and we’ll be coming back for more!”

The process was also helpful to the Old Abbey Taphouse, in more ways than one as well as a morale boost. The pub was named Community Hero and received £10,000​ from award sponsor CCEP to donate to good causes. CCEP is also giving away thousands to this year's Community Pub of the Year finalists​.

Operator Rachele Evaroa added: “It’s a really good experience to go through as a business and helps put your work into a larger national perspective. It’s helpful towards funding and loans.

“It was great to be asked the questions by the judges as it allowed us to showcase the work we do and it gives some hope and morale during the most challenging time ever for pubs.”

While the pub is among many that have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, Rachele outlined the importance of awards.

Winning Community Hero boosted morale for the Old Abbey Taphouse in Manchester.

“[They] shine a light on our industry and the amazing, talented people who run pubs, even in these challenging times,” Rachele said.

Fellow winner Tim Bird, of the Cholmondeley Arms urged others to consider putting themselves forward.

He said: “If any pub owner or operator firmly believes they have something special going on in their pub that fits the Great British Pub Awards criteria and they are proud of their achievements and are doing well consistently, then they should enter the awards.

“It isn’t a breeze to enter. You are scrutinised by the judges as they put you through their paces but this makes winning even more special because you have had to work very hard indeed to get to a final and ultimately, win a nationally-recognised award!

“If you feel you are a special pub and worthy of the recognition then you should enter.”

So, what are you waiting for?! Enter​ now.

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