The best pub in the UK has an uplifting secret at its heart

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Amy Swales
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With pubs closing at a rate of knots in the UK, our favourite watering holes are to be cherished.

The loss of so many local hubs means many are prizing community values more than ever, so it’s fitting that a pub embracing a social enterprise ethos has just been named the best in the UK.

(And nope, it’s not in London.)

The Eagle & Child pub in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, has been crowned Great British Pub of the Year by John Smith’s, beating competition from Scotland, Wales and the rest of England.

Closed and run-down, the premises were taken on by Glen Duckett and reopened in 2011, further benefitting from a huge refurbishment earlier this year.

While you might think what incredibly traditional macro brewery John Smith’s values in a pub and what you value in a pub is probably rather different, it has recognised Eagle & Child its social conscience.

The community-oriented enterprise offers opportunities to disadvantaged youngsters from the area, from young offenders to disabled youth, and says that of the more than 100 people taken on by the scheme, over 75% have stuck with a career in hospitality.

Chris + Justine telling their story from EAT Pennines on Vimeo.

As the Thwaites-owned pub’s website states, the EAT Pennines scheme is “helping to tackle youth unemployment and invest in the next generation of chefs and hospitality professionals.

“Our social enterprise EAT Pennines trains and employs young people aged 16-25 to make sure that they have the skills and experience to move into work or further training in the food sector.”

If that’s not enough, Eagle & Child is oft-awarded for its food offering focusing on local produce too, with a run of ‘Best Sunday Roast’ accolades, a 2015 listing in The Good Food Guide and a kitchen garden out back with home-grown foodstuffs.

What’s more, the recent refurb has resulted in five boutique en-suite hotel rooms, so you can drop into bed at the end of a long day’s eating.

Ed Bedington, editor of the Morning Advertiser which organises the awards, said in a press release: “This is not only a first-rate operation, with a great food and drink offer in stylish surroundings, this is a pub that is truly giving back to the community. We talk about pubs being part of the fabric of the communities within which they operate, and this couldn’t be truer for Glen’s business.”

Cheers to that.

Image: Eagle & Child


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.