Rugby CAMRA Pub of the Year 2010

By Brian Wood
Posted: 27/01/2011

Every year Camra branches throughout the UK, through their membership  arrive at a decision regarding the ‘Pub of the Year’ (POTY).  Rugby Branch in addition to this also has Summer Pub of the Year.

When appropriate, the branch also gives out Most Improved Pub and Community pub awards.

Making awards to pubs serves a variety of purpose for Rugby Camra.  It rewards excellence and demonstrates a Branch’s appreciation of a licensee’s efforts in a very tangible way, secondly we hope it helps raise standards, by hoping other licensees will aspire to reach those high standards and thirdly - It’s great for publicity, for the pubs involved. The media loves awards and it definitely raises the profile of pubs in the public eye.  In addition the focus and voting process we use and the award presentation offer great opportunity for Branch members to have a good time!!

The Rugby Branch process to arrive at POTY aims to involve as much of its branch membership as possible, and be transparently fair and above board.  All members (305) were contacted, primarily by e mail, to those who have supplied an address and by post to those who have not.  In addition this year, our ever improving web site allowed members to vote on this portal.  One vote per member is allowed (so it is a simple system that avoids undue bureaucracy) per supplied pub list of our 111 pubs in our area.  Members could also vote by attendance at our monthly branch meeting.  To maximise response reminders to vote were also sent by email.   

I am pleased to report that we continue to increase year on year participation in the event and we achieved the highest ever vote count, and via this report, I wish to provide feedback and thank everyone who participated.
32% of the membership voted, and of those 33% were by post, 36% e mail, 26% via web site and 5%* via the branch meeting on the night.  All votes are checked to be from existing current members of CAMRA.  

(* 5% was down on previous years – was this because Leeds United were on live??)

It was clear from the voting this year that more pubs were voted on and from wider areas – I said this last year but it does reflect the great quality of Real Ale now sold in Rugby.

I would like to take the opportunity to mention a few ‘out of town’ pubs that received a credible level of voting, but some of you may not know or may not have visited for a while – so perhaps you ought to!!  In no particular order The Old Smithy Church Lawford,  The Stag and Pheasant Hillmorton, The Old Olive Bush at Flecknoe, The Friendly Inn at Frankton, The Millhouse Braunston, Red Lion Crick and the Knightley Arms at Yelvertoft.  

However with the greater density of pubs and the greater variety of beers on offer, Rugby is now firmly on the map regarding the excellent pubs and beers it offers a visiting beer voyeur, and this years POTY winner - perhaps predictably –  came from the ‘Town’ group of pubs.    

Rugby Camra member voted the Pub of the Year 2010 to a previous winner - The Raglan Arms (Dunchurch Road).  Closely followed in 2nd Place was the Victoria Inn (Lower Hillmorton Road), and thirdly the Merchants Inn, (Little Church St).   

As in previous years voting 1st 2nd  3rd and for that matter 4th came down to a few votes – so to those members who didn’t vote this year you could have made a difference!!  … make sure you vote in 2011.  

I would like to share with you the feedback from one voter who like many others thought long and hard about their vote and wished to share it with me – and I thought, as I judged it the most interesting bit of feedback I had – particularly re Toilets.  You may also the extract of interest (and perhaps highlighting the opinion of some members that the vote should allow 1st 2nd and 3rd place voting? – what do you think – voice your opinion at the monthly branch meeting) I have withheld the name of the voter and clearly it is their own opinion (so I don't want responses to it please)………..

'…..there are 3 outstanding pubs, The Lawrence Sherriff, best value for money, yet good beer and adequate food. Hygiene wise is the best by far, the toilets are regularly checked and cleaned, so 21st century.  The Merchant Inn for it's handy location, atmosphere and friendly staff. My choice however for the best pub is the Half moon, Lawford rd, welcoming and warm with real wood burning fires, good beer and a generous Landlord being throttled by the brewery stranglehold. Pubs like this deserve recognition even though toilets are an arctic experience…..hmmmm…..'

Finally we do get many new members joining at the annual Rugby Beer Festival (Thornfield Bowling Club, Bruce Williams Way, Rugby CV22 5LL) Friday 17th – Saturday 18th June.  PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DATE.  I wish to confirm that for POTY 2011 all new members will be eligible to vote  

Brian Wood
Rugby Camra Pubs Officer