George and Dragon in Hudswell named CAMRA National Pub of the Year

Staff and regulars at the George and Dragon in Hudswell are planning a party after being crowned the CAMRA National Pub of the Year.

The accolade announced today marks an incredible turnaround for the pub which was saved after the community rallied round to raise enough money to buy and refurbish it.

Landlord Stuart Miller described the award as “amazing” last night.

He said the secret of the pub’s success was that it focused on the simple things.

“We’re a small, friendly pub that serves good beer. It’s the centre of the village and we get so much support from residents.”

Stuart said they usually had Wensleydale Falconer on tap, and rotated four other real ales, often produced by local micro breweries.

The landlord said he expected Friday to be very busy, with shareholders and regulars being joined by press and televison crews as news of the award spread.

He said the pub planned a party on March 11 when things had settled down.

The pub has already been crowned Pub of the Year 2016 for NW Yorkshire – Swaledale, Wensleydale, Richmond, Bedale, Thirsk, Northallerton and Osmotherley areas.

This meant it went forward to the Yorkshire final where it came first.

It then went into the national 16 regional winners and then made it into the last four.

The pub closed in 2008 after the owners went bankrupt, but it reopened in 2010.

It followed a campaign and fundraising drive backed by 80 villagers, together with other friends and supporters, who set up an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS Co-operative) in the name of Hudswell Community Pub Limited.

HCP bought and renovated the pub for the benefit of the community.

Paul Cullen, chairman of HCP, said this mornimg: “As Chairman of the Board of Hudswell Community Pub could I say how proud we are to have won this prestigious award.

“Who would have thought that from a closed empty pub in 2008 the G&D could have risen to become Camra’s National Pub of the year and congratulations must go to Stuart and his staff, the shareholders and all the pub’s supporters.

“The G&D is a great example of what even a small rural community can do if faced with losing its local pub, and shows that reopening it as a truly enhanced ‘community’ facility can bring amazing results as this award proves.”

Pub of the Year organiser Paul Ainsworth said: “The George & Dragon is a great example of how a pub has been resurrected as a true community asset.

“To go from closed doors to winning national Pub of the Year in just a few short years is a fantastic achievement for any pub, and all the more impressive for one that is cooperatively owned.

“The story of The George & Dragon goes to show that in the right hands a closed pub can become viable and successful.

“We are very impressed with the work the community group has undertaken to save their local and hope that other communities are encouraged by the example when faced with an ongoing battle to save their own local.”

As well as acting as a meeting place and venue, the pub is now home to the village library, a local shop staffed by volunteers, community allotments and free internet access for its patrons.

Camra said it was “particularly impressed with the pub’s warm and welcoming atmosphere and strong community ethos”.