Coldham Hall Tavern, Surlingham, Norfolk

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South Norfolk Community Pub of the Year 2011

Through its Local Community Champions scheme Pub is The Hub has been able to support South Norfolk District Council with their annual pub competition.

Every year customers are asked to vote for their favourite pubs giving details of the help the publicans have given to the community, and then a short list of five finalists are scrutinised by a touring panel of judges to pick the regional winners.

Each year the judging team, made up of two councillors and a representative from Pub is The Hub, has visited the finalists, looking at the pubs and talking to the publicans about how they make a difference in their respective neighbourhoods. All the winners have taken the time and energy to help their rural communities, meaning even more work and responsibility and are always a wonderful example of what can be achieved through hard work.

In 2011 there were 34 nominated pubs and the five regional winners were:

  1. The Burston Crown, Burston
  2. Coldam Hall Tavern, Surlingham
  3. King’s Head, Bawburgh
  4. The Green Dragon, Wymondham
  5. The Greyhound, Tibenham

The overall winner was Coldham Hall Tavern in Surlingham – Their fresh local food, wide variety of local ales, beer festivals, curry nights, live music and more are attracting people from surrounding villages and beyond.

Licensees, Natalie and George Linder encapsulate the hard work involved in reopening a closed local pub in a stunning location whilst still supporting local live music and facilities for people in the surrounding area. When they took on Coldham Hall in 2009 it was a failing pub, with shabby décor and a dwindling clientele. Natalie said: “It was still a place we liked to come and enjoy a drink as the location was stunning. We could see the potential and we knew we could make it into something really special.”

Despite having no experience in the pub trade, the determined couple set about refurbishing the entire pub and reopened it, much to the delight of the locals, in March 2010.

This competition really highlights the tremendous value local pubs bring to the community with all the pubs going that extra mile and the publicans acting as a catalyst to get the communities to pull together for the needs of their neighbourhood. This shows that good licensees can make a very positive contribution to their local communities, and become enthused central providers of everyday essential services and facilities in rural areas.

In running the annual competition, South Norfolk District Council is showcasing licensees and the fantastic work they do for their respective communities. All the winners receive plaques and the outright winner gets the councils help to put on a future community event worth £1000. This is a great example of inspiring and promoting the work of licensees in their communities even when local grants are not available.