The Wonston Arms, a community pub saved from closure has been named the best in the country in CAMRA’s prestigious National Pub of the Year Awards 2018, the most respected and well-known pub accolade in the UK
The pub was derelict and empty just four years ago when the owner and landlord Matt Todd bought it. Since reopening, it has focused on benefitting the local community. As a result, has become an incredibly important asset for local residents, as well as a successful, growing business.
Alongside a selection of carefully kept cask ales and a gin bar with 180 varieties, the Wonston Arms boasts a range of pop-up foodie nights and social events carefully selected to meet local demand. Darts matches, folk music, jazz sessions, quizzes and a photography club all take place regularly, and local food vendors are invited for special fish and chip, pizza and curry nights.
Owner and landlord Matt Todd said: “I’m overwhelmed that our little pub – which had been handed a death sentence four years ago – has now been named the very best in the country. I have strived to recreate the kind of wet pub I went to in the 1970s with my dad when I was a young boy in the north of England. The support from the local community and beyond has been overwhelming, helping to propel us forward despite these testing times.
“Ultimately I’d like to see our pub play a vital role in supporting and employing local residents and recirculating the local pounds that are spent in our pub. To do this, we need to ensure our continued survival with the likes of small business rate relief, which has been absolutely vital to getting us through our fledgeling years, helping us to realise our potential. Now we’re in a position where continuing to build our business may end up ensuring that we’re penalised for growth through the rates system, and we need all the help we can get!“
Pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, community focus and the quality of the beer. Runners-up in the competition include the Cricketers Arms in St Helens, Merseyside; the Chequers in Little Gransden; and the Volunteer Arms (Staggs) in Musselburgh