Historic pub in Peak District village popular with tourists scoops two prestigious national awards

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A Peak District pub in a tourist hotspot has claimed two national awards – beating competition from thousands of other venues.

The George at Castleton has won two prestigious prizes at the PubAid Community Pub Hero Awards 2024.

The pub’s owners, John and Vicky Judson, were at a ceremony in the Houses of Commons to accept the Community Sustainability Hero award.

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This celebrates the work that the pub does with regards to sustainability and the judges were looking for a pub that truly puts sustainability at the heart of what it does - for guests, the team, the wider community and in the food and drink that it offers.

John and Vicky Judson, the owners of The George.John and Vicky Judson, the owners of The George.
John and Vicky Judson, the owners of The George.

The pub saw off competition from over 1,000 entries nationwide for these industry awards, which are now in their fifth year.

On winning the award, John said: “It’s unbelievable. To win one for sustainability, that’s brilliant but to win the second one, we’re over the moon. There’s no losers in the Community Pub Hero Awards, everyone here is so inspirational.

“We were talking to The Bell Inn, who were a finalist in our sustainability category, and we have learned things from them to try ourselves and vice versa. It’s infectious when you start talking about something you’re so passionate about.

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“We live in a beautiful part of the Peak District and we bought a huge allotment on a piece of land to grow our own produce. We save all the food scraps and they go into the compost and a wormery. All of the staff help on a rotational basis in the garden. Working in the garden helps their mental health and we all love doing it.

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“I used to do glass work as a hobby 10 years ago and I’ve got back into it. I bought a kiln to melt the glass bottles from the pub down to make into serving dishes in the pub. They look great and are a real talking point to know that they started out as a wine or beer bottle.”

The pub won because of its devotion to sustainability, with The George growing its own produce, using solar power and keeping bees. The team re-use and recycle materials and food, making products from ingredients that are grown, swapped, or foraged. They are also researching ideas to reduce their water use and carbon footprint.

The judges were impressed by the variety of ways The George has built sustainability into its everyday business practices. They also admired the pub’s considerations of their staff’s needs and mental well-being – helping them to scoop the Community Pub Hero Special Award as well. The George was the only pub to win two awards on the night.

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Des O’Flanagan, co-founder of PubAid, added: “The annual event is always very special for us and all the pubs who made it through to the finals. It is wonderful to hear so many stories of publicans who do so much for their local communities and it’s heart-warming that pubs raise so much money for local and national charities and their regular customers are so generous when the cost of living makes things tough for many people.

“All 1,000 nominations we received are worthy of a congratulations but a special mention needs to be for those who made it through to the finals. The standard or entry this year has been so high that it gave our expert judges some difficult decisions.”

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PubAid, which organises the awards in association with Matthew Clark and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, refreshed the awards and added new categories to congratulate more community pubs throughout the UK. There were 33 finalists in total across five categories.

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