Baldock pub reaches finals of Community Pub Hero Awards

Pub recognised for community support during lockdown

The Orange Tree in Baldock is one of just 10 pubs from across the country to reach the finals of the Community Pub Hero Awards, organised by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and sponsored by Matthew Clark.

 Orange Tree Rob Scahill Credit Danny Loo
By Ros Shiel & Photo by Danny Loo

15 April 2021

The competition was created to recognise the great work done by pubs since the first Covid lockdown in March last year, who have gone above and beyond to support their local communities, despite facing uncertainty themselves.

On the day after lockdown, licensee Rob Scahill decided to turn his pub into a shop. Within a couple of days, he had stocked his store by reaching out to suppliers, staff and friends offering to volunteer, and help from Greene King. The Orange Tree shop opened every day, firstly for ‘priority’ customers including vulnerable and NHS workers, giving them a safe shopping environment before it opened to other residents.

With this support to make the shop viable, Rob chose to make it a not-for-profit operation and, in flash of inspiration, added 20% to the cost price of items with that amount going to a new Baldock Musicians Support Fund – founded by Rob to support local musicians who would be struggling without the pub gigs they relied upon to make ends meet. Rob also continued the pub’s much-loved quiz going through lockdown, with more than 100 people joining online every Tuesday. Rob said: “I am so proud to be able to say that I never closed my doors. The Baldock Musicians Fund is now closed but in the 15 weeks from the first Saturday of lockdown, we raised an utterly incredible £22,119.25.”

Nationwide, 115 pubs entered the Community Pub Hero Awards, the majority nominated by their local MP. Entries were judged by a panel of industry experts and the overall Community Pub Hero will be announced later this spring.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Our heartfelt congratulations go to the Orange Tree. Landlords and landladies and their teams have offered invaluable support for communities during the pandemic, whether offering vital supplies for residents, cooking hot meals for the elderly or countering social isolation through online quizzes or chats. Choosing the 10 finalists was a real challenge for the judges, as every pub who entered had a strong story to tell. Those who have reached the shortlist should be very proud of their achievement.”

Richard Hayhoe, Marketing Director, Matthew Clark added: “We were delighted to support this competition and pleased with the response from pubs and the many MPs who nominated a ‘hero’ in their constituency. The fantastic work done by so many licensees and teams during the lockdowns and periods of restricted trading over the last year have provided a vital lifeline to countless people, and prove that pubs are genuinely a force for good in their communities.”

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group said: “These awards have been a great opportunity for MPs to celebrate how landladies and landlords in their constituencies have stepped up to the mark to support their community during the pandemic. Yet again we have seen that pubs are the antidote to isolation.”

This is the third year for the competition, which was reshaped and renamed this year – it was formerly Charity Pub of the Year - to focus on community support rather than traditional charity fundraising.

THE FINALISTS

  • The Angel & Crown, Richmond

  • The Bevy, Brighton

  • The Bowgie Inn, Crantock near Newquay, Cornwall

  • The Clifton Arms, Blackburn

  • The Horse & Jockey, Melling, Merseyside

  • The Mowden, Darlington

  • The Old Courts, Wigan

  • The Orange Tree, Baldock, Hertfordshire

  • The Portobello Inn, West Kingsdown, Kent

  • The Portsmouth Arms, Hatch Warren, Basingstoke

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