Punch Pubs & Co. held their National Publican of the Year Awards last week, celebrating their very best Publicans and Management Partners from an estate comprising over 1,300 pubs.
Punch held a Gala event at their Burton-On-Trent Headquarters, completely transforming the venue to welcome and serve their deserved Publicans, industry guests and suppliers during an incredible night of celebration.
The event reinforced Punch’s commitment to being a Modern and Progressive Company. Previously, Punch had hosted separate regional award events, but Tuesday the 12th of September marked their first National Publican of the Year Awards for many years. Front and centre of the entire proceedings were the industry leading Publicans and Management Partners passionately competing in 10 categories, including Best Drinks Offer, Mental Health & Wellbeing, and the prestigious Publican(s) of the Year 2023.
After months of meticulous planning, the night of celebration commenced with a champagne reception served by the Punch Exec, led by CEO Clive Chesser, followed by a four-course dinner all created and served by the Punch team in a luxuriously decorated marquee.
The awards were hosted by TV star Mark Durden-Smith, who was joined by Clive and Punch’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Spencer.
Proudly addressing the crowd, Clive said: “I am always humbled and immensely proud whenever I visit our pubs, and nothing has been more fun or exciting than meeting the fantastic people and pubs we have in the finals of these awards.”
“Having the pleasure of knowing many of you and your pubs, I share the view of my fellow judges that everyone sat in this room epitomises the true spirit of hospitality, and each of you runs a pub at the very heart of the communities they thrive within. It is our privilege to host you tonight in our home, in our own ‘public house’, and I am super proud of all of the office team who have volunteered to be your waiting team and look after you this evening, as well as our talented group of chefs in our food development team, led by Tom Allen.”
Following the big reveal of the first eight category winners was the penultimate Lifetime Achievement Award, filling the room with emotion when Clive announced it would go to one deserving Publican lovingly known as ‘Aunty Di’.
Referring to Diane Crathern of The Richmond Arms, Godalming, Clive said: “I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Diane’s pub on several occasions, and I can tell you, when you walk into her pub, you instantly feel a sense of warmth.
“You could, and people do, lose time in this beautiful, traditional pub because you’re made to feel at home. Diane thoroughly deserves this award; she has been a stalwart within her community for over forty years, and is quite simply an inspiration to anyone who wants to run a bloody good pub.”
With heightened emotions, it was time to reveal the night’s biggest winners. Paul and Emma Gibbon of The Plough in Prestbury, Cheltenham, took home the crown of Punch Pubs 2023 Publicans of the Year.
CEO Clive Chesser applauded the husband and wife team for running a pub that their community loves and feels at home in, and also commended them for their collaborative work with the people in their communities and for nurturing talent.
He said: “Paul and Emma are passionate about their team. When times are tough, and we’ve all experienced that more recently than ever, they are calm and pragmatic with a laser-like focus on what is needed to come through adversity and continue to thrive.
“They put their heart and soul into their pub every single day, whilst also being a huge advocate and champion of others, both locally and nationally.”
Paul and Emma were visibly moved by the reaction within the room and received a standing ovation and raucous cheers as they collected the night’s top award.
With all winners now announced, the energy was ramped up with a saxophonist, bongosero and vocalists from Birmingham-based band Luxe by TwentyOne Events, with the guests hitting the dancefloor to party the night away.
Punch Publican of the Year Awards 2023 – Winners
National Publicans of the Year – Paul and Emma Gibbon, The Plough Inn – Prestbury
Regional Publicans of the Year –
Chris Stockton, The Ferry – Wallasey
Kate Lowe, The Shakespeare Inn – Hull
Emma Griffiths, The Wickstead Arms – Nantwich
Samantha Foster, The Ship – Grays
Becky Davies and Cameron Foster-Smith, The Bulls Head – Countesthorpe
Paul and Emma Gibbon, The Plough Inn – Prestbury
Steve and Trish Ulyatt, William Mitchell – Morecambe
Nik Ranhem and Nathan Fowler, The Dog House – Kennington
Dom and Shell Roberts, The Anglesey Arms – Halnaker
Best Pub Entertainment & Sport – Debs Wilbee, The Jolly Sportsman – Chesham
Community Champion – Selena and Brian Ogden, The Butchers Arms – Southam
Best Drinks Offer – Dennis Wann, The Sailmakers Arms – Hull
Best Outdoor Offer – Chris Driver, Oak Tree Inn – Darlington
Best Newcomer – David Donlan and Catherine Hall, Seven Stars – Poulton-le-Fylde
Best Food Offer – Tom and Katie Hannon, The Rising Sun – Truro
Mental Health & Wellbeing Award – Vivian Bulmer, Two Pointers – Leeds
Best Sustainable / Eco Friendly Pub – Michael Lenthall, Hen House – Cannock
Lifetime Achievement Award – Diane Crathern, The Richmond Arms – Godalming