On Thursday 27th January we held a well-attended ceremony at the Hop Pole Inn, Aylesbury to present Ian Matthews, landlord of the pub, with a certificate for 2021 branch Pub of the Year. Chairman, Simon Isted, made the presentation.
Recognising an extremely tough couple of years for local pubs, the branch wanted to recognise the efforts made by Ian and his team at the Hop Pole to make real ale available during national lockdowns, operating a takeaway click-and-collect service when it was legally possible to do so. For this, Ian was also given a Lockdown Hero award by the local CAMRA branch.
The pub also made all possible efforts to reopen as quickly as possible in April last year, with outdoor table service being provided at the earliest opportunity. Fortunately, the branch members were able to toast the pub’s success in the warmth inside with no Coronavirus restrictions in place.
On Friday 3rd February we made a presentation of a second Lockdown Heroes Award certificate to the Chiltern Brewery and its pub, the King's Head, in Aylesbury town centre. In a ceremony at the King’s Head, a long-standing entry in the Good Beer Guide, the certificate was presented to George and Tom Jenkinson of Chiltern Brewery by CAMRA’s Brewery Liaison Officer for Chiltern, Giles du Boulay.
Like several other of the excellent breweries in the Aylesbury Vale area, Chiltern offered delivery and click-and-collect services to real ale drinkers during the lockdowns. Additionally, with the King’s Head forced to stop trading as a pub, Chiltern Brewery converted one of the fifteenth century pub’s outbuildings into a popular grocery shop, also offering home-baked bread and other brewery products. A coffee bar was also opened in the pub’s courtyard.
Giles commended the brewery for maintaining its investment plans during the pandemic. “At both the Chiltern Brewery and their brewery tap, the historic King’s Head here in Aylesbury, considerable commitments for growth had already been entered into before lockdown restrictions came into force.”
“It is remarkable just how magnificently these businesses rose to the challenge. Fully complying with all the restrictions, they both made outstanding efforts to maintain and indeed enhance their services to provide real ale during very difficult circumstances. On top of this to our great admiration they took the heroic decision to press ahead with their significant investments demonstrating their vision for the future.”
On Friday 11th February the final Lockdown Heroes award certificate was presented to Stephanie Guiraute of the Seven Stars at Dinton. This is in recognition of the pub staying open by converting itself to a shop during lockdowns and therefore continuing to be a valuable asset for the local community.
The first two events were covered by the Bucks Herald. Follow the links below.