THE OWNER of a pub in the Moorlands has been bestowed with a prestigious national title after impressing judges with the work he has done. Paul Collins, who runs The Roebuck in Forsbrook, was presented with the Star Pubs and Bars Newcomer of the Year Award at a recent ceremony at the Luton Hoo Hotel in Bedfordshire for his excellent work. “We didn't know we were going to win,” he told the Times and Echo, after his pub was shortlisted alongside four other drinking establishments.
“It’s brilliant, I’m very proud, especially with the customers and the team as it’s recognition of all of the hard work we have been doing for 18 months.
“It’s very nice to win the award as a 61-year-old – it means there is still hope for all of us oldun’s!”
Paul became the licensee of the public house in October 2018 after going into semi-retirement following the sale of his gas business.
He explained how he became the owner of the venue after he “got bored” and decided to lend his friend a hand at the pub, although admitted that he had never initially envisaged him running a drinking venue before.
Since gaining the lease, Paul has overseen a lot of refurbishment and has started two clubs; one for 18 to 30-year-olds and another named the ‘seventy to plenty club’.
Consequently, the growth of community members visiting the pub has increasingly grown.
“I love to see the place full of happy people,” he stated. “I’m quite interested in combatting social exclusion so we’ve set up two clubs.
“The ‘seventy to plenty’ club runs from 10am to midday on Thursdays where elderly members of the community come in and enjoy free tea and locally sourced food.
“It’s going very well, we have 20 ladies coming in for tea and cakes right now.
“One 80-year-old lady said, in all of her 70 years living in the village, she had never walked into a pub alone until she went to the club.
“Numbers grow every week. It’s nice to put something back into the community.”
Under Paul’s tenure, the pub has raised nearly £10,000 for various charities including MIND, the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and the Macari Foundation as well as raising a total of £4,500 for the British Legion.
“It brings the community together,” he stated. “We are very fortunate in that the locals have always given to charities when we do events.
“For example, one day at the bar, we decided the village needed a defibrillator and so I managed to get in contact with a few businesses and in the pub in just over seven days we were able to raise £2,200.
“Within two weeks we had a defibrillator outside available for anyone to use.
“It’s a measure of our customers in the pub, really.”
Paul concluded: “I’d like to thank my family for supporting me, the fantastic bar team and all the customers.
“At the end of the day, it’s their pub. Our mantra has always been that we don’t simply serve alcohol, we serve an experience and something that will make them want to come back.”
Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens gave testament to Paul and The Roebuck. He said: “We were blown away by The Roebuck and Paul’s talent, energy and passion for the job.
“The Roebuck is an outstanding pub with a brilliant atmosphere where customers are assured of a warm welcome, some great craic and a laugh as well as extremely good food and drink.
“It’s all down to Paul. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for somebody new to the industry.”
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