The New Flying Horse at Wye has been named Pub of the Year in the Shepherd Neame Pub Awards, which were held at Canterbury Rugby Club on Wednesday (May 24).
Licensee Joe Mullane took on the country inn two years ago, reinvigorating its nine rooms and creating an innovative menu using fresh, local ingredients, including from the pub’s own vegetable patch. The New Flying Horse is also renowned for its extensive selection of 58 wines, winning the Shepherd Neame Wine Pub of the Year award in 2022.
Joe, who runs the pub with his wife Jane, was also celebrating his 60th birthday on the night. He said: “We are a hospitality business – it is about bringing people together. There is one thing we have done right – and that is build an incredible team, they are amazing. They love the pub as much as we do. We are so thrilled to receive this award, which is a fantastic recognition of everyone’s hard work.”
Seventeen of the independent family brewer’s pubs and hotels across Kent, London and the South East were honoured at the ceremony, which celebrates exceptional standards across its 300-strong estate. There were also five individual awards, including for the first time, Apprentice of the Year.
Managed Pub of the Year went to The Oak on the Green, Bearsted. Run by General Manager Paul Stewart, it is hugely popular with locals, putting customer service first and hosting live music and events, as well as supporting great local causes.
Paul said: “I’m so pleased and surprised to receive this award. It is a team award and I have got a really great team – this is for all of them.”
The Vine at Tenterden, run by General Manager Fraser Johnston for the last five years, was Highly Commended. The pub is firmly at the heart of the Tenterden community, serving a fantastic menu of pub classics with a contemporary twist and celebrating major events and brightening the High Street with floral door displays.
Tenanted Pub of the Year was named as the Hampton Inn in Herne Bay, run by licensees Georgina Paxton and Harvey Burwin for seven years. The pair have invested significantly in the seaside pub during that time, and it is now the busiest restaurant in Herne Bay, hosting regular live music including a popular monthly Soul by the Sea dance night.
Georgina said: “I’m just blown away to receive this – it is a team award,” while Harvey added: “We purposely have a large team for quite a small pub because customer service is the most important thing to us. Our managers do an amazing job.”
Highly Commended was The Bear in Faversham, a brilliant beer house run by licensees Tim and Lacey Stowell, serving the perfect pint.
The award for Outstanding Contribution went to Karen Barrett, who has been licensee at the Walnut Tree in Aldington for more than two decades. As she was unable to attend on the night, Jonathan Neame will make a special presentation at the pub next week.
Karen is renowned for ensuring that the Walnut Tree is at the heart of its community. It is a meeting place for a host of local organisations including the Aldington Women’s Institute, men’s church group, Microlight Society, Knit and Natterers, and the local bridge club, along with supporting Aldington’s football and cricket clubs. Karen’s charity work also includes volunteering as a trustee at Kaleidoscope Childcare, and hosting a quiz for the charity on the last Sunday of each month.
She previously received a Certificate of Achievement from the Mayor of Ashford Cllr Callum Knowles in 2021 in recognition of her exceptional community service, tireless charitable fundraising and selfless volunteer caring for others.
Chef of the Year went to Peter Baldwin of the Fish on the Green in Bearsted, who has been at the double AA rosette-holding restaurant since it opened in 2008. Dedicated to his work, Peter sets himself high standards and creates all dishes on the menu, while his wife Helen manages the front of house team.
Peter said: “I didn’t expect this! The support we have had from Shepherd Neame has been great, allowing us to continue to do what we love in our own way, which is what our customers love.”
Highly Commended was Will Shenow-Brady of The Dove at Dargate, who has been running the village pub with business partner Sophie Webb since 2018.
With a fine dining restaurant background, he has created a delicious gastropub menu, using fresh local ingredients, with all dishes cooked from scratch and using seasonal produce, including from the pub’s own allotment.
The Mermaid Inn at Bishopsbourne received the award for Best Beer Offer. People travel from miles around to enjoy the excellent cask ale available at the secluded village pub run by licensee Becky Smith and her team, who are committed to delivering a perfect pint of Shepherd Neame beer.
Becky said: “People really do come from all over to our little pub, and to receive this award is fantastic – it is something I have wanted for years.”
Highly Commended was The Duke of Wellington in London, which has been going from strength to strength, offering its discerning customers top beer quality.
The Three Mariners in Oare received the award for Best Wine Offer. Licensees Tom Gravett and Renata Peret, who took over the pub last year, after running pubs for 20 years, are passionate about wine, and instil this passion in their team too.
Tom said: “Renata comes from a wine background and she has worked really hard with our General Manager, Jack Goddard, to get the wine offer just right and to keep refreshing it, which is really important.”
Highly Commended was The Bell Hotel in Sandwich, which offers its customers a regular ‘wine of the moment’ selection, while General Manager Natasha Franz and her knowledgeable team serve wine in great condition.
The Best Food Offer award went to the Bucks Head in Sevenoaks, run by licensees James Dench and his wife Hope, who have been running their first pub since May last year – including Hope giving birth to their first child, Nora, the day they took over!
James is also Head Chef, producing top quality pub food using fresh, locally sourced ingredients at affordable prices.
He said: “It is a pub at the end of the day and so we have tried to give our customers what they want – good, honest pub food.”
Highly Commended was The Stag in Hastings, which has been run by licensee Nicole Holt and her husband Nick for six years during which time the pub has received an AA Rosette for the first time last year – which has been retained for 2023 – along with their first Good Food Guide entry and Pub of the Year in the annual Beautiful South Tourism Awards 2022/23.
The Marine Hotel, Tankerton, received the award for Best Accommodation Offer. General Manager Nicholas Ings-Kemsley and his team at the 30-bedroom hotel pride themselves on offering impeccable service from check-in to check-out. One of the strongest accommodation businesses in Kent, The Marine Hotel also won Shepherd Neame Hotel Pub of the Year last year.
Nicholas said: “I am thoroughly delighted that The Marine has won! It really is a team effort, working hard together to ensure we have a welcoming team, a team that cares about everybody as an individual. As a result, we have a lot of repeat customers who look forward to seeing us again and again.”
Highly Commended was The Bull at Newick, a quaint village pub in the Sussex countryside, run by licensee Angelena Churcher, which recently completed a refurbishment of its nine en-suite rooms.
The Heart of the Community award went to The Flying Horse at Smarden, which is run by licensee Natasha Hartfield. Natasha was also a finalist in the Charity Fundraising Hero category of the recent PubAid Community Pub Hero Awards, in recognition of the pub’s mammoth charity collection for the people of Ukraine.
Natasha said: “I’m so surprised – this is the first thing we have ever won. We’re only in a small village, so we have fantastic support from the community and our fundraising is something everyone gets behind.”
Highly Commended was the Horse and Groom, Belgravia, which is run by licensee Afrim Neli and his team. One of Belgravia’s cosiest pubs, it has been described as ‘exceptional’ and a ‘hidden gem.’
Customer Service Pub went to The Parrot in Canterbury, a Grade II listed pub in the heart of the city offering fantastic customer service, and receiving many good reviews and positive comments.
Manager Francis Williamson said: “We are so pleased to win this award! I have a really good team, and it is so important to us to offer a fantastic experience for our customers.”
Highly Commended was The Barn in Tunbridge Wells, which has been run by General Managers Philippe and Janet Sorak for 30 years, on behalf of licensees Ron Zanre and recently retired Patrick McGuire.
The pub was named Boutique Wedding Venue of the Year at the Kent Wedding Awards 2023 and hit the headlines this year after celebrating the couple’s 30-year milestone by inviting back couples who had got married there since it also became a wedding venue, with some brides arriving in their wedding gowns.
Apprentice of the Year went to Sally Carter, currently Assistant Manager of The George Hotel in Cranbrook, who is nearing the end of her studies for a Hospitality Manager Level 4 qualification.
A committed advocate for both the company and apprenticeships, Sally said: “I am shocked to be honest. I really love Sheps and I love what we do so to be recognised with this award is just fantastic.”
Highly Commended was Lewis Weygang, who joined the Horse & Groom, Wilmington, as a part-time kitchen porter 16 months ago while at university and is now a full-time chef, studying for Commis Chef Level 2.
Shepherd Neame Chief Executive Jonathan Neame said: “These awards are about celebrating excellence in our people, recognising their extraordinary hard work, dedication, and creativity, from those who are just joining the industry, to those who have been working hard for their customers for, in some cases, decades.
“We know that the hospitality industry is facing unprecedented pressures at the moment, and so it is more important than ever that we come together to congratulate and celebrate our pub teams for the amazing work they do, day in, day out, for our customers.”
Full list of winners:
Apprentice of the Year: Winner – Sally Carter. Highly Commended – Lewis Weygang
Chef of the Year: Winner – Peter Baldwin, Fish on the Green. Highly Commended – Will Shenow-Brady, The Dove
Best Beer Offer: Winner – The Mermaid Inn, Bishopsbourne. Highly Commended – The Duke of Wellington, London
Best Wine Offer: Winner – Three Mariners, Oare. Highly Commended – The Bell Hotel, Sandwich
Best Food Offer: Winners – Bucks Head, Sevenoaks. Highly Commended – The Stag Inn, Hastings
Best Accommodation Offer: Winner – Marine Hotel, Tankerton. Highly Commended – The Bull, Newick
Heart of the Community: Winner – Flying Horse, Smarden. Highly Commended – Horse and Groom, Belgravia
Outstanding Contribution: Karen Barrett, Walnut Tree, Aldington
Customer Service Pub of the Year: The Parrot, Canterbury. Highly Commended – The Barn, Tunbridge Wells
Tenanted Pub of the Year: Winner – Hampton Inn, Herne Bay. Highly Commended – The Bear, Faversham
Managed Pub of the Year: Winner – Oak on the Green, Bearsted. Highly Commended – The Vine, Tenterden
Shepherd Neame Pub of the Year: New Flying Horse, Wye
Further pictures of award winners are available here: https://shepherdneame.resourcespace.com/?c=1837&k=64f75ba1d9
About Shepherd Neame
Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.
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