Northamptonshire pub that delivers roasts to neighbours' doors wins national prize

The Old Swan in Earls Barton has been named as the best 'turnaround' pub in the UK, after being taken over by villagersPaul and Mark Dexter.
The Old Swan in Earls Barton has been named as the best 'turnaround' pub in the UK, after being taken over by villagersPaul and Mark Dexter.

A duo from Northamptonshire who transformed their village pub into a community hub have been awarded a national prize.

Ei Group, which operates community pubs across the country, has this week announced The Old Swan in Earls Barton as the winner of ‘Best Turnaround’ at its annual awards for excellence.

Since reopening the closed venue - local residents Paul and Mark Dexter have completely redecorated it complete with a lively family theme to the rear dining area and a more traditional bar.

But the Ei judges were impressed by the pair's efforts to make the pub the centre of their local community.

Over the last year, the publicans have introduced theme nights, live music, a ‘free cheese and port’ night and even local roast dinner deliveries, especially to the elderly.

They have also hosted a series of charity nights raising over £10,000.

Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said: “This award celebrates those publicans who have made a huge, positive difference to their pub and their local area, and that’s exactly what Paul and Mark have achieved with the Old Swan.

"It’s a truly remarkable turnaround, and it’s all down to their hard work, determination, and no little skill. They’re now an integral part of the local community.”

The Awards for Excellence recognise and celebrate the achievements of the very best publicans across the Group, which operates some 4,400 pubs in England and Wales.

All winners have demonstrated operational excellence and outstanding commitment to running fantastic pubs at the heart of their communities.

Each pub faced scrutiny from a judging panel made up of industry experts and senior figures before site visits were conducted by pub expert Phil Dixon. Finalists were invited to attend a gala awards ceremony at the Old Thorns Hotel in Hampshire on July 2 where the winners were announced.

Mr Townsend added: “The standard of entries to our awards this year was exceptionally high with so many of our publicans going the extra mile to make a real difference in their communities. We are delighted that these awards provide us the opportunity to shine a light on some of the passion and energy that our publicans put into running their businesses and reward them for their efforts.”