With hundreds of entries received for 2020's special Great British Pub Awards, we were kept busy reading the amazing, selfless lockdown stories of pubs up and down the country. We were inundated with entries across a wide range of categories with some amazing stories coming to light. Sadly we could only shortlist a few, and there could only be one winner per category, but we’d like to pay tribute to all the pubs that entered, you’ve all done an amazing job in very difficult circumstances and should be immensely proud of your achievements!
As the 2020 awards focused around selflessness and community spirit, and with the exceptional circumstances we found ourselves in, it didn’t seem right for us to put finalists through our rigorous judging process and decide on a winner ourselves. Instead, the winners were decided via a public vote, with each winner being offered the opportunity to submit an application for up to £10,000 each to fund a business improvement or upgrade or to put towards a community project, courtesy of Coca-Cola!
Over 65,000 votes were tallied up and the winners were revealed in an emotional livestream on 24 September 2020.
Admiral Taverns Pub Hero (Sponsored by Admiral Taverns)
The Clifton Arms, Blackburn, Lancashire
The Clifton Arms is a superb example of the many pubs that refused to let the lockdown disconnect them from their community. Led by licensee Carole Davis, this Blackburn-based pub has been voted the winner of the Admiral Taverns Pub Hero of the year in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020. Carole kept connections going and started out sending essential boxes to vulnerable locals, as well as helping out the local hospitals and care homes with vital supplies as well fruit baskets to keep staff going as well as radios and TVs for care home residents who were isolated and without.Winner's video
Business Continuity Pub Hero (Sponsored by Diageo)
The Nook Cocktail Club, Weymouth, Dorset
Many pubs refused to simply shut up shop during lockdown and instead looked for ways to keep their businesses afloat. Cocktail operator The Nook Cocktail Club, in Weymouth, Dorset, were a prime example and took home the title for Business Continuity in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020. The bar quickly pivoted its business to an innovative cocktail takeaway operation, allowing customers to enjoy cocktails at home, and went viral with some clever marketing initiatives which piggy-backed off their local M&S campaign.Winner's video
Charity Champion Pub Hero (Sponsored by Booker/Makro)
The Portsmouth Arms, Basingstoke, Hampshire
Charity is often at the heart of many pubs and this was not something that was forgotten during lockdown, particularly at The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren. This Basingstoke-based business was declared Charity Champion at the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020 after raising more than £23,000 with a world record setting longest pub quiz. Manager Richard Curtis ran a 34 hour and 11 minute virtual quiz to claim the record, and in total during lockdown raised more than £47,000 for charity.Winner's video
Community Mindfulness Pub Hero (Sponsored by Long Live The Local)
The White Horse, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Keeping people connected is a vital service pubs do day in day out, but lockdown posed challenges for that, but for pubs like the The White Horse, being shut wasn’t going to stop them reaching out. The Norfolk-based pub was voted winner for the Community Mindfulness category of the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020, and led by irrepressible licensee Marvin Tillman the pub kept everyone going through lockdown. His regular broadcasts and live streamed DJ-sets quickly moved to an interactive level, giving Marvin the chance to keep people focused, entertained and connected throughout the long lockdown.Winner's video
Community Services Pub Hero (Sponsored by Heineken)
The Fox at Peasemore, Berkshire
Isolation, anxiety and lack of access to services were key problems during lockdown, and an area that many pubs were able to help with, especially The Fox at Peasemore. This Berkshire-based business was deservedly declared winner of the Community Services category at the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020. Starting out by launching a service to provide basic essentials, operators Lauren and Phil Davison quickly developed the business into a community shop and then takeaway before going onto to start knocking on doors of vulnerable members of the community to check on them.Winner's video
Ei Publican Parterships Pub Hero (Sponsored by Ei Publican Parterships)
The Mowden Pub, Darlington, County Durham
Delivering over 10,000 free meals to struggling locals, the The Mowden Pub roped in the whole family to keep the community going during lockdown. Winning the title of Ei Publican Partnerships Pub Hero of the Year in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020, licensees Simon and Rachel Leadbetter raised nearly £10,000 to help fund the support. The couple provided much needed support to vulnerable locals including one single mother who’d been suffering from cancer and was so ill her 12-year-old daughter was having to cook for her.Winner's video
Feeding the Community Pub Hero (Sponsored by Ei Publican Parterships)
The Keel Row, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland
With supermarkets running dry and food banks struggling, pubs became so important to keeping the community fed and The Keel Row Seaton Delaval was a great example. Winner of the Feeding the Community category in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020, the pub, based in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, launched a free delivery service and provided free meals and services to the most vulnerable in its community. It even brought cheer to the local kids at Easter by arranging a tour of surrounding villages by Peter Rabbit who left treats on doorsteps.Winner's video
Front Line Support Pub Hero (Sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners)
The Golden Lion Inn, Redruth, Cornwall
With the lockdown inspiring a supermarket scramble, front line workers were missing out on the opportunity to feed their families – fortunately, The Golden Lion Inn & Lakeside Restaurant was able to step in. The Redruth-based business saw that NHS staff were missing out and stepped up to offer support by feeding front line workers free meals available in fridges at the front of the pub. They rallied the local community, suppliers and farmers to help provide supplies and the initiative took off with more than 2,500 meals provided.Winner's video
Greene King Pub Hero (Sponsored by Greene King)
The Fountain, Aberfeldy, Perthshire
As the lockdown bit hard into vulnerable members of the community, pubs were fortunately on hand to ensure they were not forgotten and The Fountain Bar & Restaurant at Aberfeldy, Perthshire went above and beyond. Within hours of being told to shut down, operator Gavin Price and manager Julie Dunbar launched Feldy-Roo, a free food delivery service to vulnerable people over the age of 70 across the area, and quickly built up a team of volunteers to keep the service running. Deservedly winners of the Greene King Pub Partners Pub Heroes of the Year, the Fountain Inn delivered nearly 40,000 free meals during lockdown.Winner's video
Keeping the Community Entertained Pub Hero (Sponsored by Sky)
The Swan in Clewer, Windsor, Berkshire
Entertainment is a key part of the pub mix and with people struggling during lockdown, many pubs reinvented their offer into the digital space, but none quite as well as The Swan in Clewer. This Windsor-based pub took the title for Keeping the Community Entertained in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020 by offering a huge range of things to engage with the local community. This community owned business already runs a school as part of its operations but shifted events online from its book club and sewing club to even offering bedtime stories services for children to help stressed parents out. All this alongside quizzes, music events and more.Winner's video
Pub Shop Pub Hero (Sponsored by Booker/Makro)
The Spread Eagle, Bolton, Greater Manchester
Shopping became a huge challenge for many people during lockdown and pubs rallied round to help and the Spread Eagle in Bolton was no exception. The pub did such a fantastic job it was voted winner in the Pub Shop category of the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020 for keeping its community going. Operators George Campbell and Daniel Dunne quickly found themselves adapting from selling beer to becoming experts in a wide range of fruit and veg, all of which provided vital support to people struggling to source products in the crowded supermarkets.Winner's video
Punch Pubs & Co Pub Hero (Sponsored by Punch Pubs & Co)
The Victoria, Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside
Lockdown hit communities hard, but for pubs like the Victoria, Merseyside, it was an opportunity to shine. Taking the title of Punch Pubs & Co Pub Hero of the Year, in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020, this cracker of a pub rose to the challenge and among many achievements managed to team up with a local food bank to deliver over 12 tonnes of food for free. The pub also worked with local businesses and managed to source over 2,500 Easter eggs to ensure every child in the local area had their own Easter egg delivered.Winner's video
Sheltering the Community Pub Hero (Sponsored by Screach)
The Crown Inn, Gayton, Norfolk
For pubs with rooms the lockdown was devastating to their business, but many operators recognised the need to help shelter the vulnerable and needy. The Crown Inn Gayton, was quick to step up and helped to encourage other operators to provide free accommodation to desperate NHS staff who were forced to live apart from their families at the height of the crisis. Operators Neil and Lisa Staples provided a vital service to a range of grateful front line workers in the NHS and were voted winners in the Sheltering the Community category of the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020.Winner's video
Staff Welfare Pub Hero (Sponsored by Booker/Makro)
The Bowgie Inn, Newquay, Cornwall
It wasn’t just communities affected by the lockdown, pubs also had to think of the welfare of their staff. Winner of the Staff Welfare category in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020 was Sally Pickles of the BOWGIE INN who went above and beyond in maintaining regular contact not just with her team, but her team’s extended families, and even providing mindful sessions on the beach and bringing in yoga instructors to stream sessions.Winner's video
Star Pubs & Bars Pub Hero (Sponsored by Star Pubs & Bars)
The Hare and Hounds, West Ardsley, West Yorkshire
Putting customers first was a hallmark of great pubs during the lockdown, and the Hare & Hounds in West Ardsley, Yorkshire was no exception. Jackie Fairburn, licensee, took the title of Star Pubs & Bars Pub Hero of the Year in the Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020, for her excellent work in looking after shielding and vulnerable members of her local community. The pubs takeaway services provided a vital lifeline for many in the community and she even provided treats with afternoon teas, many sent free to local care homes.Winner's video
Words from the winners...
"We were extremely proud to be able to support our community during such a difficult time last year and receiving this recognition for our efforts was the icing on the cake. In the 4 weeks after opening, we finished 50% up on sales compared with the same period in 2019, demonstrating the impact this investment had on the business."
Winner: Feeding the Community 2020
"Winning the award has meant lots of local and national media coverage, the additional media exposure that you get is really important, because that is worth thousands and thousands of pounds"
Winner: John Smith's Great British Pub of the Year 2017
"Winning the Great British Pub heroes Award was a tremendous honour, not just for our pub The Fountain Bar, but for our whole Community. This award and the #FeldyRoo project as a whole really has helped put Aberfeldy on the map. This is sure to benefit the Fountain bar and all the businesses that were involved in the future."
Winner: Greene King Pub Hero of the Year 2020
"We were delighted to have been selected as a finalist for two awards at the 2020 Great British Pub Awards, and then to go on and win the Staff Welfare Award was absolutely fantastic. We will not let the lovely award just gather dust, we don’t feel that winning the award is the end."
Winner: Staff Welfare Pub Hero 2020
"Thank you for making some dreams come true, for recognising the amazing people I am surrounded by and supported by on a daily basis."
The Great British Pub of the Year 2016
"Winning the GBPA category for Keeping the Community Entertained has been a huge boost for The Swan. Whilst the prize money has allowed us to make some amazing progress with the refurbishment of our kitchen, most importantly, the award has helped us raise our profile in the community and made many more local people aware of what is going on at the pub, our aims and vision for its future."
Winner: Keeping the Community Entertained Pub Hero 2020
"We were incredibly proud to be recognised by such a prestigious award after the most challenging of periods in our industries history. Winning gave our team a much needed morale boost, our customers drew confidence in knowing that the venue had bounced back to be at the top of its game and agencies such as Arts Council England, The Mayor of London and our local Council were reminded of the vital contribution our venue makes to our diverse community."
Winner: Best Late Night Entertainment Pub 2021
"Winning the Hawthorn Pub of the Year was just amazing not only for us but for the wonderful village we live in. The response we have received since winning has been fantastic and overwhelming. Working in a tough environment running a pub, to get this recognition just made it all worthwhile."
Winner: Hawthorn Pub of the Year 2021
"The Great British Pub Awards made a real difference to our business. It was a huge honour to win the “Best Food” award and the consequential publicity was immense. The award undoubtedly helped us grow our reputation for being a destination venue."
Winner: Best Pub Food 2021