Border pubs raising the bar with national awards success

Best Bar None award for Best Independent Pub.
Waggon Inn - Brian Campbell, Paul Waterson (Scottish Licenced Trade Association), Joyce Campbell.
Best Bar None award for Best Independent Pub. Waggon Inn - Brian Campbell, Paul Waterson (Scottish Licenced Trade Association), Joyce Campbell.

Two Kelso businesses have been recognised as among the best licenced premises in Scotland in a nation-wide scheme which promotes a safe day and night time economy and social responsibility.

The Waggon Inn, in the town’s Coalmarket, and The Queen’s Head Hotel on Bridge Street both picked up national awards at the Best Bar None Scotland 2016-17 National Awards held in Glasgow last Thursday.

Best Bar None Award- Best Hotel Bar. The Queens Head- Mark Hay, Elaine Bannerman (Maxxium) and Frances Cessford.

Best Bar None Award- Best Hotel Bar. The Queens Head- Mark Hay, Elaine Bannerman (Maxxium) and Frances Cessford.

The Queen’s Head Hotel scooped the national award in the Best Hotel Bar category while The Waggon Inn was named Best Independent Pub.

A total of eighteen licensed venues from across the Scottish Borders were accredited at the Scottish Borders Best Bar None Awards last month but only the two Kelso venues were included in the 47 finalists, split across 11 categories, in the national awards.

Joyce Campbell, who has owned and ran The Wagon Inn alongside her husband Brian for the last seven years, said: “I was astounded that we got there. It was the first time that anyone from the Borders has reached the national awards.

“We have been involved with these awards since the start and have had three gold awards and one silver in the past, but this is our first time reaching the national finals.

“This shows that we are a responsible licensed premises and it is amazing for both us and The Queen’s Head both to get the national recognition.”

Joyce, 47, is actively encouraging other bars, hotels and restaurants in Kelso to sign up to the scheme and was proactive in getting The Queen’s Head involved for the first time last year.

Having gained a gold award last year, The Queen’s Head proprietor of ten years Mark Hay, wife Sandra and manageress Frances Cessford were delighted to go a step further this year.

Mr Hay said: “We did a lot of staff training both in house and externally and Frances put a lot of work in for this.

“We are delighted by the award and for the work we have put in, this is the icing on the cake. It has really brought everyone together as a team.”

Both venues will now display an outdoor plaque recognising their accreditation to and award from Best Bar None and the values the awards promote.

Chairwoman of Best Bar None Scotland awards, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said: “The awards continue to raise the profile of the fantastic work our venues do in support of the night time economy but in particular their innovation and social responsibility practices.

“Accreditation to the scheme shows the venue and its staff have dedicated themselves to providing the very best customer experience to their customers that assures members of the public they will be able to enjoy a safe and welcoming atmosphere.

“The National Awards recognise best practice, leading to an enhanced experience for customers.”

Recognising each venue’s contribution to encourage customer and staff safety while supporting a good night out, the prestigious National Awards acknowledge the best work and innovative practices on offer among the 400 plus Best Bar None accredited venues in Scotland.

The focus of the Best Bar None scheme is on public safety and customer care, together with the following key principles: prevention of crime and disorder, securing public safety, prevention of public nuisance, protecting and improving public health and the protection of children from harm.

As the Best Bar None scheme continues to roll out across Scotland, this year’s awards also saw finalists for the first time from schemes in East Renfrewshire, East Lothian and Elgin.

There are ten categories within the award scheme: Pub, Independent Pub, Bar, Independent Bar, Hotel Bar, Night Club, Specialist Entertainment Venue, Heart of the Community, Newcomer and Innovation in Social Responsibility.