Your local pub is often taken for granted. A hub of the community, pubs bring people together like no other place can. And in this current climate, more so than ever, we need to remember how much joy they bring. For 2020, the Great British Pub awards has aimed to recognise and celebrate publicans’ selfless acts of kindness during lockdown, looking at how pubs have gone above and beyond to help in the community.
And this year, one of Yorkshire’s own pubs managed to score gold. The Hare and Hounds in West Ardsley, West Yorkshire was named a winner for its commitment to support the local community during lockdown. With over 1,000 pubs entered in 15 categories (and 65,000 public voters), the award is quite the impressive feat.
Deserving winners, Jackie Fairburn and Partick McElroy at The Hare and Hounds, provided a lifeline for vulnerable folk after pubs were told to close their doors in March. Jackie and Patrick took it upon themselves, from a list of 30 local vulnerable folks that were shielding, to call them up for a weekly chat, as well as running errands and doing their shops for them, too.
They also set up a food takeaway and delivery service which operated right from the pub – serving an average of 100 people per day. And when it came to celebrating VE Day, Jackie launched packaged afternoon teas – and 450 were snapped up. The tea service continued for people looking to mark special occasions, giving locals the opportunity to send treats to one another throughout the rest of the lockdown. 75 were also gifted for free to residents and staff at the local nursing home to help lift spirits.
Profits that were made from the food sales were invested into the pub’s garden, which has had an outdoor bar and a cosy, covered seating area that can fit 180 people to enjoy a safe, socially-distanced drinks.
As part of the prize, Coca-Cola has provided a £165,000 fund for the winning pubs, helping them to continue their community work and make vital business improvements or upgrades over the coming months.
Ed Bedington, the editor of pub trade brand The Morning Advertiser, which organises the Great British Pub Awards, said: “Early on in the pandemic, we received calls from pub owners telling us of the community work going on in towns, villages and cities.
“This was all being done despite the pub owners fearing for their own livelihoods. But they knew, even though they faced adversity themselves, they had to continue to support people in their communities. That’s just what publicans do.
“So, we wanted to bring to life these moving stories and give pubs the recognition.”
Coca-Cola GB Brands Director Paul Grace added: “Pubs are a vital part of Great British culture and provide huge support to local communities. This year more than ever before, they’ve needed our support in return, which is why telling their stories through these awards is so important.
“Many of the pubs we’ve heard from have achieved amazing things in lockdown, crucially, with the support of their loyal customers. We must all keep looking out for each other while restrictions remain in place, to overcome the challenges that are still on the horizon.”