Two Banbury residents, who took over their struggling local, are celebrating after winning a national award after less than a year at the helm.
Simone Kelly and Simon Parish gave up their jobs to take over The Musketeer Pub, on Ruscote Avenue, last May.
It was then with some surprise, the pair won the Exceptional Service and Retailing Standards Award from Heineken-owned Star Pubs and Bars at a ceremony at The Belfry resort in Sutton Coldfield, hosted by comedian Ed Byrne.
Simon said: “We can’t believe it. I’ve been a regular at The Musketeer for the last 30 years and have known it all my life. Simone and I remember it in its glory days when it was a hub of the community and our aim is to get it back there.
“We’re sticklers for detail and want everything to be perfect. This award means the world to us – it shows we’re on the right track. Local people have supported us every step of the way – we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The judges were looking for a community pub with a great atmosphere, excellent standards and friendly service and deemed The Musketeer the outright winner.
They were impressed by the achievement of business partners Simon and Simone in turning around the pub, building a reputation for outstanding live sports and musical entertainment and doubling the number of customers in just 10 months.
Simon and Simone were also commended for their charity fundraising activities. The couple raised £2,000 for The Katharine House Hospice in their first six months at the pub and have launched a weekly meat raffle with the aim of donating £4,000 to the hospice at the end of the year.
Star Pubs and Bars managing director, Lawson Mountstevens, said: “Simon and Simone’s achievement is remarkable and their award is well deserved.
“Their care for The Musketeer and its customers shines through in all they do and nothing is too much trouble.
“Service and standards like theirs truly put the ‘great’ into great British pub.”
Simon and Simone aren’t resting on their laurels after their win and are planning a family fun day on Sunday, May 5.
Simon said: “It’s our chance to say thank you to the community.”