Category Archives: awards

SWAN IN GASTROPUB TOP 20!

The Swan at Bampton is celebrating after being named for the third year running as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in Maidenhead recently (January 28 2019).

The multi-award-winning pub has polled in at number 20 this year. It received a special award as the highest climber in the list in 2018 when it was rated 28th and in 2017 it was positioned just inside the chart at 50.

Chef-patron Paul Berry, who co-owns The Swan with his wife and fellow award-winning chef Donna, said: “We’re absolutely delighted! It’s a testament to our team, our customers and our suppliers. They are wonderful people and each one of them has a share in this.

“Last year we were ranked as number 28 and the year before we just made it into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game, so we couldn’t have been happier. But now to be into the top 20, it’s just amazing. We’re in such great company, with the likes of Tom Kerridge’s pub the Hand and Flowers in the top 20 too, it’s just a wonderful feeling and we’re speechless!

“The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards again this year.”

The ceremony is organised by the publican’s publication, The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

Editor of the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, Nicholas Robinson, said in The Morning Advertiser: “Gastropubs are an example of everything that is great about the UK food and drink scene.

“There’s something phenomenal happening in gastropubs up and down the country, they are growing and maintaining that growth where chains and other restaurants are failing.”

No stranger to accolades, The Swan scooped a plethora of other awards last year, including being named Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and being voted Best Dining Pub for 2018 in the Trencherman Awards.

The Swan also retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence in 2018, for the fourth-year-running, and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co/.

STOGUMBER SHOP NOMINATED FOR ‘RURAL OSCAR’

A small village shop in rural West Somerset has reached the regional finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards 2019.

Central Stores Stogumber, which is run by Roger Howe, is a local village shop and Post Office in the remote village of Stogumber, which nestles between Exmoor and the Quantock Hills.

The awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, review thousands of nominations and select nine regional champions from five categories.  The winning five finalists will be given the title of national rural champions in a ceremony attended by MPs and ministers.

This photo was taken about 11 years ago when Roger and Anne took over the shop.

As well as offering Post Office services during the week, Central Stores stocks a wide selection of groceries, provisions and gifts.  The shop is an important hub for the village where people can meet others and find out about what is going on in their local community.  Roger’s additional services include selling tickets for local events, supporting charitable and environmental initiatives, delivering groceries to disabled residents and offering local businesses and craftspeople the chance to promote and sell their products and services within the shop.  Roger’s wife Anne, who is disabled, runs the store’s website and Facebook page and has a particular interest in helping to protect the local environment through recycling initiatives.

“We are so thrilled to have reached the finals of this prestigious competition,” said Roger.  “Central Stores has received nominations from people in the village as well as from those living elsewhere who have used it when on holiday or visiting family, and we are very proud to be a valued hub in the community.”

Find out more about the awards:
www.countryside-alliance.org/campaigns/caawards/

PHOTO AT TOP: Local residents celebrating the publication of Circular Walks around Stogumber, which is available to purchase in Central Stores for £3.

 

GOLDEN TIMES FOR THE SWAN IN BAMPTON AS IT RECEIVES MORE ACCOLADES

The team at an award-winning Devon pub are celebrating this week (December 10, 2018) after receiving more prestigious plaudits and acknowledgements for their food and hospitality.

The Swan, Bampton, retained its four AA Gold Stars and two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and chef-patron Donna Berry was a finalist in both the Devon Life and Trencherman Awards.

Donna’s husband and co-owner of the gastropub with rooms, Paul Berry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. November was a very special month for us and these awards and accolades are a marvellous celebration of what we do and what our team delivers.

“We’re super proud of Donna, who was a finalist in not one, but two, major industry awards this autumn. She was up against some of the South West’s best chefs in the Best Chef category in the Trencherman Awards 2019 and it was amazing she was in the top three.

“The other three contenders for the title were Bruce Rennie from The Shore Restaurant, Penzance, Jude Kereama from Kota, Porthleven, and Matthew Beardshall from Wilder in Nailsworth. Jude was crowned the overall winner, but Donna did incredibly well to be listed with these three heavyweights of the culinary world. They are no strangers to the spotlight and you may have seen Jude recently on TV when he just lost out to Tom Brown from Cornerstone in Hackney Wick in London during the Great British Menu.

“Donna was also a finalist in Devon Life’s Best Chef of the Year and narrowly missed out on the top spot to another worthy, local contender: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms in Tiverton. So, it’s been a fabulous November for us and we couldn’t be more delighted with being finalists in these two awards.

“We’re also celebrating another major accolade, as we’ve been awarded two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence for the fourth-year-running and have also retained our AA Four Star Gold Inn status, so we couldn’t be more delighted.”

Two Rosettes are awarded to restaurants that display a consistency in their approach, precision in their cooking and obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.

AA Hotel Services’ Hotel & Restaurant Inspector, James Hartley, said: “Congratulations to Paul, Donna and all the team. This is deserved success based upon commitment, consistency and quality. The Swan continues to offer an engaging combination of impressive cuisine, genuine hospitality and cosseting bedrooms, all contributing to a rewarding guest experience.”

The Swan has also received some more good news recently relating to the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards.

Paul added: “We’ve found out that we’re in the ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub listing for 2019 for the third year running but will not find out our actual placing until January at the official awards event. The top 50 is a big thing for us as it’s recognition on a national level from colleagues within the industry.”

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by food writers, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

“Once again it’s been a wonderful year for us. We’d like to thank our customers, suppliers and the whole team at the pub, everyone is part of this.”

To find out more about The Swan, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.
 

EXMOOR VOLUNTEERS SHORTLISTED FOR UK NATIONAL PARKS AWARD

Volunteers behind a project to restore historic signposts across Exmoor National Park have been shortlisted for the UK National Parks Volunteering Awards 2018. Sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, the award recognises the outstanding contribution that volunteers make in helping care for these precious landscapes and inspiring others to safeguard them for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Two years ago, many of Exmoor’s traditional cast-iron signposts were looking shabby and at risk of falling into disrepair. In response to concern from local communities over the issue, Exmoor National Park Authority teamed up with Heritage Lottery fund and Somerset County Council to fund a project that would recruit volunteers to help restore and refurbish them, and trace their history.

Stuart and Mike are two of the fantastic army of over a hundred volunteers!

Project leader Charlotte Thomas from Exmoor National Park, said: “More than 100 volunteers have contributed to this project, helping with everything from the initial surveys and historical research, to actually painting and refurbishing the signs. We’ve even had people coming forward with bits of old signpost found in outbuildings that are now back in their rightful place, saving hundreds of pounds in restoration costs. Being shortlisted for this award is a great way of celebrating all that’s been achieved by these wonderful volunteers.”

Two other projects from Northumberland and Dartmoor National Parks have been shortlisted alongside Exmoor for the ‘projects’ category – one of four categories of award.

The judging panel this year was made up of the volunteer coordinators from all of the National Parks, who made the following statement: “Judging these awards is a humbling experience as it gives us the opportunity to learn about so many people and projects that are making an immense contribution to the 15 National Parks across the UK. It was a difficult choice this year as there were so many inspiring entries. We’d like to congratulate those who have been shortlisted and we would like to thank everyone who is volunteering to help our staff look after National Parks!”

The winners of each category will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival on 17 November 2018. All winners will receive great prizes provided by Columbia Sportswear and £1000 bursary is given to the group and project winners to help their volunteer work.

TOP 100 RANKING FOR THREE ACRES COUNTRY HOUSE EXMOOR

The Visit England Rose Awards 2018 were announced at the Independent Hotel Show in London on Tuesday and one Exmoor establishment was awarded the prestigious accolade of being among the Top 100 accommodation providers in the country.

The national Rose Award is presented to a range of outstanding hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering establishments, in recognition of their excellence in customer service. Nominations are put forward by Visit England Quality Scheme assessors and selected from assessor comments and feedback from overseas and domestic visitors. Winners are selected by a final judging panel looking for innovation that sets the business apart.

Winners of the title include Exmoor-based Three Acres Country House, a luxury guest house set in secluded peaceful grounds near Dulverton. A family business run by owners Edward and Julie Christian, they are assessed by Visit England who have consistently graded them with the highest ranking of 5 Stars with Breakfast and Gold Awards since 2007.

Edward and Julie Christian commented: “We are delighted that the high standards at Three Acres Country House have been commended because we go to great efforts to provide our guests with a comfortable, relaxed and enjoyable stay on Exmoor. To receive such praise from Visit England, the leading industry body who judge with impartiality, is reassuring both to us and visitors. We are keen to champion the wonders of Exmoor and feel privileged to be in a position to be able to share it with others.”

Three Acres Country House, Brushford, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9AR
Tel: 01398 323730
www.threeacresexmoor.co.uk
Read more:  www.visitbritain.org/visitengland-announces-winners-2018-rose-awards

SALAD DAYS HUT RECOGNISED IN ‘LOVE YOUR HUT’ AWARDS

Following on from previous tourism award, Salad Days Beach Hut at Dunster Beach has now been recognised in the Love your Hut of the Year competition, coming 3rd in the converted national contest, with beach huts at Mudeford in Dorset and Dovercourt in Essex taking 1st and 2nd place.

Run by the Yorkshire-based specialist hut insurance company, ‘Love your Hut’, the competition is open to entries from all kinds of huts including chalets, beach huts and shepherds huts from all over the UK.

“To be ranked so highly in a major national competition is such an honour, but it does also recognise how far the humble beach hut has come since its lowly beginnings as a Victorian bathing machine,’’ said Brett Bates, co-owner of Salad Days (above).

Salad Days has received numerous accolades since launching in 2016 and has been incredibly successful, having being fully booked for the last two years with many guests returning. Previous awards won include: 2017/18 Visit England Dog Friendly Business of the Year, 2017/18 South West Dog Friendly & Self Catering Business of the Year, 2017/18 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Self Catering & Dog Friendly Business of the Year and 2016/17 Bristol, Bath & Somerset Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

The beach hut has also been ranked by Visit England as 5 stars for the last 2 years, the only beach hut to receive this ranking in the UK. It is 1 of around 260 beach huts at Dunster Beach, a large proportion of which are still holiday lets. Traditionally Dunster Beach has welcomed holidaymakers since the 1930s, and Brett Bates and Susan Juggins are continuing this tradition with Salad Days by offering a high standard of accommodation in a quintessential British beach hut. Brett said, “Our new hut ‘Holi Moli’ – due to be available to rent in March –  is intended to follow in the footsteps of Salad Days, but has some big shoes to fit into, we owe it to Dunster Beach to make sure the huts just get better and better, so watch this space.”

All of the entrants in this year’s ‘Love your Hut’ competition can be seen on the @LoveyourHutoftheYear Instagram page at www.instagram.com/loveyourhutoftheyear

AUTISM-FRIENDLY EXMOOR

Tucked away on the fringes of Exmoor National Park you will find a self-catering farm complex with a difference. North Hayne Farm  is a happy, vibrant business where young children run freely, collecting eggs, bottle-feeding lambs and helping with farm duties. The complex of eight, high-standard, stone-built cottages, however, goes that little bit further as it also specialises in providing holidays for children with autism. North Hayne Farm is the first business in North Devon to achieve the National Autism Society (NAS) ‘Autism Friendly Award’.

Owner Cheryl Dixon, a former early years practitioner and lecturer, began to notice a marked increase in visitors who had children on the autism spectrum back in 2012. Over the following years she saw how these children benefitted from small changes her and her husband Roger made to the website, to the cottages, to the arrival and welcome process and, in particular, to the structured farm routines that were a major part of the holiday experience they offered.

“We wanted to further our understanding and undertook some formal staff training from the Devon Autism Centre. This, together with the support and encouragement from our wonderful visiting families, gave us the confidence to enter for the award,” says Cheryl.  “Autism is no longer that misunderstood condition it once was, and yet so many children with autism and their families struggle to find suitable holidays that can make the world of difference to them all.”

Cheryl and Roger were thrilled to learn that they had successfully achieved the award, and a little surprised to learn that we are the first business in North Devon to attain this. “How great would it be if more businesses could join us in helping to make Devon and Exmoor a more autism-friendly destination?” says Cheryl. “Simple changes to everyday routines can make huge differences but fundamentally two things really make the difference; firstly, remaining non-judgmental when you meet someone who may be on the ‘spectrum’ and therefore behave just that little bit differently to what you might expect, and secondly, taking the time to raise your own awareness of the condition.”

So many of the parents visiting North Hayne Farm who have children on the ASD spectrum comment on little things that will have made such a difference to their overall holiday experience. It might be the assistant who showed such patience or thoughtfulness when queuing for a ride became too difficult, or the waiter who handed out ‘fidget toys’ while their child waited for their meal, or even the person at one of the theme parks who noticed that communication was difficult and began to ‘sign’ instead.

As Cheryl says, “It all makes such a difference and from a tourism point of view makes so much sense. Why go somewhere different when you experience such a positive and understanding approach to your family’s needs right here on Exmoor?”

For more information contact Cheryl Dixon at North Hayne Farm Cottages:  info@northhaynefarmcottages.co.uk

PHOTO: Cheryl and Roger with their award

EXMOOR SOCIETY: EXMOOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR’S AWARD 2018

The 2018 Pinnacle Award, organised by The Exmoor Society, is open to young people aged between 18 and 27 who live, work or study in the Greater Exmoor area. It offers £3,000 to an individual or group who have a business start-up or development plan. Six years ago, The Exmoor Society set up the Award to support young entrepreneurs who wish to stay working on Exmoor, particularly within farming and land-based development, but not exclusively.

As a conservation body, The Exmoor Society fully recognises the importance of providing opportunities for young people to remain on the moor when they enter the world of work. “The Society wants to show that beautiful landscapes and livelihoods can go together by supporting the younger generation, the very essence of keeping Exmoor alive as a national park,” said Rachel Thomas, Chairman.

Previous applications have come from people with ideas as diverse as making cider and developing a herd of pedigree cattle. Winners so far have included young people setting up their own agricultural contracting businesses, entrepreneurs in a country clothing business, low-impact forestry services and a worker in traditional ironwork who wanted to branch out into steel fabrication to meet the demands of the modern market. Last year’s winner, Nick Hosegood, an arborist from Luxborough, is using the award to offer a portable milling service for Exmoor-grown timber.

The Society hopes to attract many entries for the award this year which has a closing date of 30 June 2018. Application forms are available from The Exmoor Society’s office in Dulverton, telephone 01398 323335 and on its website: www.exmoorsociety.com.

PHOTO: Previous winners include Matt Sharp (2015).

LITTLE BEACH HUT GETS BIG AWARD

Salad Days at Dunster Beach, Dunster in Somerset has been awarded Bronze at this year’s Visit England Tourism Excellence Awards for Dog Friendly Business of the Year.

The awards, held annually, are the culmination of all of England’s regional Tourism Awards. To reach this stage all finalists have to have won at county and regional level first and need to be the best in their chosen field, businesses have to offer world-class service and excel in all areas. Brett Bates and Susan Juggins of Salad Days won Gold for Dog Friendly Business of the Year and Silver for Self Catering Business of the Year at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards in November last year, then repeated the accolade at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February. They were then taken aback to find out that Salad Days had been nominated for the prestigious Visit England Awards last month “and now to have gone on to be awarded Bronze is just incredible,” said Brett.

“Dunster Beach has always been a little hidden part of Somerset, now to have been recognised on the national stage, we hope to have an even greater impact on tourism in the area and make people realise they can pull off the motorway in Somerset to sample some amazing, award-winning attractions, eateries and places to stay. We have had some fantastic exposure and hope to be able to bring some of our success back with us to benefit the whole area; we know our fellow beach hut owners will be as pleased with this award as we are, it helps put Dunster Beach on the map and it is no longer a hidden gem.”

The couple were first attracted to the awards because of the offer of free advice from tourism industry experts. As beginners themselves –  Salad Days is only in its second year – Brett and Susan say they have learned so much and met some lovely people during the process; they would advise anybody to enter the awards and go on the courses offered. “Being in tourism can seem like a lot of hard work at times but to meet like-minded people via the awards process can be such a benefit to the business owner and their customers,” said Brett. “Our guests at Salad Days love the fact that we have won awards, but more importantly, they are the ones who feel the benefit of what we have learned. We have loved being able to introduce this part of Somerset and Exmoor to people who have never been here before, and the awards have helped us to be able to do just that.”

So what next? Brett and Susan are currently renovating their second beach hut, Holi Moli, to run alongside Salad Days. The aim is to learn from Salad Days’ success and improve upon what has been such a winning formula. Brett and Susan will both continue training and learning new skills, so watch this space, Holi Moli will be bringing colour to Dunster Beach and hopefully new guests to the area.

TOURISM AWARDS FOR TWO DUNSTER BUSINESSES

The Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster has been listed as a finalist in the 2018 National Group Travel Awards. It is one of seven nominated in the “Best Individual Hotel for Groups in the UK” category.

Antony Brunt, the proprietor of the Yarn Market Hotel, commented: “We are delighted to be nominated as a finalist in these awards. It’s a great reflection on the work that all of the team at the hotel put in all year round to attract business and then to make sure that our guests, be they groups or individuals enjoy their stay and the delights of Dunster itself, West Somerset and the Exmoor National Park.”

Antony is a well-known figure on the Travel Trade Show circuit and has been found promoting the Yarn Market Hotel and the wider attractions of the area across England and Wales. The message has been taken to London, Manchester, venues across southern England and Liverpool amongst other locations and on Tuesday 20 March he headed to the NEC Birmingham to spend two days working at the British Travel Trade Show. The work and the mileage has clearly paid off as he will return to a full hotel, hosting a four-day break for RailTrail holidays, who are visiting heritage railways in the South West including the second day on the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on Friday 23 March.

Also celebrating…

Salad Days (see photo) is a finalist in the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Tourism Excellence 2018

VisitEngland, the national tourist board, has announced the finalists for the Awards for Excellence 2018, with Dunster’s Salad Days being named as a finalist in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year. The winners of this prestigious accolade will be announced at the Awards ceremony to be held on Monday 23 April at the Bath Assembly Rooms.

Salad Days Beach Hut, announced as a finalist earlier this week, represents one of the three finalists in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category and is the only representative from Somerset. All finalists must now wait until the Awards ceremony to discover whether they have achieved Gold, Silver or Bronze placings.

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “The finalists have shown themselves to be of the highest calibre, using their talent and innovation to deliver excellence. The hundreds of applications this year reflect the quality products across our tourism landscape and I warmly congratulate all the finalists and wish them the very best of luck.”

Speaking on behalf of Salad Days, Brett Bates, said: “We were so excited to win Gold in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Awards held in Taunton last year, then we were over the moon with a further Gold at South West Tourism Excellence Awards in Torquay last month and now we can’t quite believe that our little beach hut has made it to the national Visit England finals. Salad Days will be alongside some of the best tourism businesses in the country. All this in just our first two years of business, wow!”

“Salad Days started as a dream over 50 years ago when I used to visit Dunster as a child and now I want our guests to experience some of the charm and magic that this wonderful part of Somerset offers,” said Brett “Now, with this kind of recognition, it will help to put Dunster Beach on the map and more people will find it, which is good news for Dunster, Somerset and Exmoor. Right from the beginning we wanted Salad Days to be dog friendly as we knew that so many people visit this area with their dog, now they can stay at one of the best dog friendly businesses in England.”

PHOTO: The interior of Salad Days Beach Hut

A full list of winners can be found at www.visitenglandawards.org/finalists