The Old Bell Landlord Wins Best Newcomer of the Year

The Old Bell Landlord, Claire Wakefield has won the Best Newcomer in the Brakspear 2022 Hospitality Awards.

Claire got the keys to the pub on the 18 March 2020 (a few days before lockdown!) so it’s been a highly unusual start to pub life but Henley’s oldest building is now the go-to place for cocktails.  Claire said, “I was beyond surprised and flattered. Brakspear are a great company to work with and I hope to do so much more over the next few years.”

The Old Bell was one of eight tenanted and leased pubs that recognised the licensees at an awards ceremony held at the recently refurbished Bull on Bell Street. The winning tenants were presented with a plaque and £1000 in cash to spend as they wish. Their success followed rigorous judging, which reviewed sales growth, online reviews, visits from the judges and submissions from those pubs who made it through to the final. Independent judges were involved in a number of categories.

The other 2022 Hospitality Award winners are:

Brakspear Chief Executive Tom Davies said, “Judging the Hospitality Awards every year reminds us of the talent within our company and we are proud to have some of the best operators in the business running Brakspear pubs.

“We take our Awards very seriously; all nominations are reviewed thoroughly and choosing the winners seems to get harder every year as standards rise across the estate. Today’s winners should be very pleased with their success and we know they’ll be celebrating again when back in their pub, thanking the teams and the customers who have helped them win this recognition.”

Craig and Jonathan have ensure the Bee has remained at the heart of Burnham life and each member of the team is given a different element of the bar to look after, be it the ice machine, line-cleaning or renovating glassware to keep everything running like a well-oiled machine and ensure quality is top notch.

Laurence at the Leicester Arms works with his next-door neighbours who look after the pub garden and even sell the seeds to those enjoying a pint. A great example of a pub working with the local community.

Chelsey, Clark and Richard are a family affair and the Sunday roast is everything you’d expect, though perhaps not the gravy served in teapots (to keep it warm) and condiments in espresso cups demonstrating element has been considered.

Ted worked all hours whilst pubs were forced to close during the Pandemic, setting up an online shop and takeaway food service to the Nettlebed villagers. So impressed by his efforts, this award comes after the locals presented him with his own Community Champion plaque.

Kris and the team have transformed the Claremont with a fresh makeover inside and the carpark to the rear has made space for a beautiful outdoor space for customers to enjoy with live music and themed events making it the go-to place in Tunbridge Wells.

With a three-year break (due to the Pandemic), the annual party was welcomed back by all who attended. Cheers to that!