A couple who transformed a ‘run down’ pub into a warm, homely, welcoming venue have won the coveted Bury Free Press Pub of the Year 2015 glass trophy.
Karen and Paul Couzens have invested around £200,000 in their Wickhambrook pub since buying it from Greene King in August, 2011.
They relocated from Kent, where they previously ran a holiday camp and convenience stores, and only closed the pub for two days before reopening and refurbishing around their clientele.
Under the management of their son Jack and his partner Damien Pearce, the pub has become central to village life and, being just 10 miles from Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket, has also proved popular with visitors from neighbouring towns.
Renamed The Greyhound and Twenty One after opening a restaurant last year, the pub has become known for its friendly hospitality and popular events, including themed nights, pub outings to Great Yarmouth, children’s discos, fireworks displays, Christmas meals for the over 60s and New Year’s Eve dances, as well as for reviving the village carnival and starting Wickfest.
Winning the BFP award completes a successful year for The Greyhound, which has already won CAMRA’s West Suffolk and Borders (Rural Community Pub of the Year) 2015.
Karen, owner and head chef, said: “We’re very proud to have won it, and overwhelmed, but I’m a great believer that you get out of life what you put in and we do try to do a lot for people – we’ve made a lot of good friends here.”
She said turning the pub around had been a labour of love and the award had made her feel like it had all been worth while.
Jack, touched by everyone’s support, said he was ‘lost for words’ and ‘shocked’.
The Crown at Hartest and the Trowel and Hammer at Cotton won second and third place in the competition respectively. Both were presented with certificates in recognition of their achievements.