Celebrating The Landlord or Landlady of The Year
The Best Publican Award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the pub industry. A landlord or landlady recognised for all-round excellence, with a reputation for pushing boundaries to change the pub landscape and for creating exceptional customer experiences. Above all, the winner is an inspirational and positive force, someone committed to the development of their team, the success of their establishment(s) and the industry at large. Take a look at the shortlist below.
Voting is now closed. The winners will be announced on Tuesday 4 February at the show.
Alison Morrison & Alison Guest, The Black Rose Tavern
Known as The Alison’s, Alison Morrison & Alison Guest are the managers of The Black Rose Tavern. They organise various safety campaigns and charity functions, including a homeless coffee morning, a charity dress night for 'Never Too Old', and a mental health awareness day. In addition to this, they have both got a Mental Health Diploma and have completed a Sign Language Level 1 to be able to provide guidance to those that need help in the community. The Black Rose Tavern has been accredited Best Bar None for Edinburgh and then also for Scotland.
Anton Wimmer, The Kings Head Bawburgh
Anton has been landlord of The Kings Head in Bawburgh for over 35 years - he is one of the longest standing landlords in Norfolk, East Anglia. He has guided The Kings Head from a country drinking pub to a pub and restaurant that is renowned in the local area (and further afield) for its culinary excellence, whilst still maintaining its roots and keeping the locals happy. 2019 has been an award-winning year for The Kings Head, taking home awards for The Good Pub Guide’s 'Dining Pub of the year 2019' and the AA’s 2AA Rosettes for culinary excellence year on year since 2014.
Glen Duckett, Eagle and Child, Ramsbottom
Eight years ago, Glen took a boarded-up pub during the height of the recession and with his passion and determination, built an award-winning Inn. He focuses on turning lives around and provides remarkable opportunities for local young people to get into the pub and hospitality trade, with a major focus on recruiting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with higher support needs. To date, Glen has helped over 130 young people into training and employment, and and over 30% of the Inn’s employees have a learning disability, autism or mental health issue. Eagle and Child Ramsbottom has been given an array of awards, including the recent 'Taste Gold' Accolade from Visit England and Sawday’s 'Community Pub of the Year' again for 2019/20.
Graham Blaikie, The Mercat Grill
With over 20 years pub trade experience, in 2011 Graham took over the very dilapidated Dolphin Inn. His vision was to turn this less than desirable venue into a thriving, village gastropub, creating new jobs for locals and delivering top-quality food & drinks, with exceptional service and at good value for money – plus in a stylish, relaxed and friendly setting. And that is what he has achieved. It’s now The Mercat Grill, an award-winning venue. In 2016 they were awarded 'Restaurant of the Year' in Scotland and 'Restaurant of the Year' in South East Scotland at the Food Awards Scotland.
Matthew Todd, The Wonston Arms
Before Matthew took over the Wonston Arms, it was almost lost. He rescued this tiny, almost derelict, wet-only pub, and has never looked back. With innovative ideas for pop-up food (fish & chip van Tuesdays, pizza oven Wednesdays), a community café for charity once a month (over £7000 raised for various charities), regular live music, and quiz nights, Matthewmost importantly rounds it off with the great drinks selection: 4 real ale pumps with an ever-changing selection; close to 200 gins, and countless other tipples to suit every palate. Matthew has won various awards, including the CAMRA 'Best Pub of North Hampshire' and national 'Pub of the Year' for 2018.
Polly Dunn, The Kings Head
Polly is the general manager of The Kings Head. She started out as a waitress, was promoted to supervisor then assistant manager and through to the general manager of a pub turning over more than £2m per annum - all by the age of 26. She continues to exemplify what it is to be a great leader, successfully finding a way through the challenges of increased competition, tougher trading conditions and challenging recruitment to deliver industry leading trading results in her business. Polly is widely respected across the business, she is a great role model and there are many up and coming managers that aspire to be like her and to emulate her success.