Dorset village pub dubbed ‘hub of the community’ wins pub of the year

A village pub which has ‘returned to being the hub of the community’ has been named one of the best in a prestigious contest run by CAMRA.

The Rose and Crown, in Longburton near Sherborne, won this year’s West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the Year award following a vote by members.

Local CAMRA members were asked to nominate a pub that not only fitted the usual criteria of excellent beer, atmosphere and cleanliness including the toilets but also how the pub had stepped up a gear to help their local community during the Covid pandemic.

Run by John and Becky Gibbons, the Rose and Crown was described as ‘a superb example’ of its criteria, but members were impressed with how an old shipping container in its car park was converted into a village shop.

Bournemouth Echo: Rose and Crown in the village of Longburton near Sherborne has won this year’s West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the year award. Picture: CAMRARose and Crown in the village of Longburton near Sherborne has won this year’s West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the year award. Picture: CAMRA

The Larder sells essentials such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables, while the pub also has an outreach post office which is vital to the rural village’s locals.

West Dorset CAMRA spokesman said: “The Rose and Crown is a fantastic example of how important a village pub can be to the local community and the diverse roles it can play in modern times.

“Covid-19 has changed the way we all think and live and it is highly commendable that licensees John and Becky Gibbons have assisted the local population in this way amongst others.”

The old thatched pub’s interior is tastefully seasonally decorated with flagstone flooring, country-style bar, attractive fireplace, window seats and a large dining area, and an accompanying skittle alley which boasts several home teams.

Bournemouth Echo: John and Becky Gibbons with the West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the year award. Picture: CAMRAJohn and Becky Gibbons with the West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the year award. Picture: CAMRA

Four locally sourced real ales and cider are usually available with an annual beer festival held around the first May bank holiday. Outside there is a large garden with plenty of outside covered and uncovered seating. There is a marquee set up that host functions from wedding receptions, live music, and charity events.

This year the pub will be one of the hosts on the Dorset Invader run and will also stage a charity ball on July 30 for Cancer UK.

After receiving the award, the delighted couple said: “Last year has been extremely hard for the hospitality industry, Covid-19 definitely ripped the heart out of the pub trade with lots still closed and many which will never return.

“We have been very lucky with the community support around us, which has given us the opportunity to open the Larder through the pandemic and help us all get through this together.

Bournemouth Echo: Becky Gibbons, son Kai Gibbons and John Gibbons outside The Larder. Picture: Josie Sturgess-MillsBecky Gibbons, son Kai Gibbons and John Gibbons outside The Larder. Picture: Josie Sturgess-Mills

“The pub has returned to being the hub of the community once more with the icing on the cake being given this award from CAMRA; we are thrilled and thank the members for us it means so much.”

The pub will now be put forward to the Wessex CAMRA regional finals where it will compete with pubs from Hampshire, Wiltshire, East Dorset and the Channel Islands.

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