A pub in North Hertfordshire could win a Countryside Alliance Award, dubbed a 'Rural Oscar'.

The Red Lion in Preston, near Hitchin, is a finalist in the East of England pubs category, with the public now voting to decide the winner.

Last year, the hostelry marked the 40th anniversary of it becoming Britain's first community-owned pub, and its history goes all the way back to 1844.

Originally, beer was sold in the separate cottages that have now been combined to form The Red Lion.

Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is supporting The Red Lion's bid to win a 'Rural Oscar'.

He said: "The Countryside Alliance Awards celebrate those businesses that go the extra mile and are the cornerstone of our rural communities.

The Comet: Bim Afolami is supporting The Red Lion's bid to win a 'Rural Oscar'.Bim Afolami is supporting The Red Lion's bid to win a 'Rural Oscar'. (Image: Penny Bird/Bim Afolami MP)

"The Red Lion in Preston is a fantastic local pub – the oldest community owned pub in the country and an absolute centrepiece of our rural communities.

"I’m delighted that they have been nominated to be the East of England’s Pub of the Year. Make sure to give them your support!"

For 17 years, the 'Rural Oscars' have been an annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage, and aim to shine a light on hard-working small businesses.


Each year, they receive thousands of nominations with just a fortunate few making it to the final for each category.

People are encouraged to nominate their favourite rural businesses, and to vote for them in the final.

You can vote for The Red Lion by clicking here.

Sarah Lee, director of the Countryside Alliance Awards, said: "We have been overwhelmed by nominations this year.

"The secret to the Rural Oscars’ popularity is that they honour the people involved in these businesses and not just their produce or services.

"They exist to sing the praises of those who work hard to keep our communities and rural economy ticking, but don’t seek the spotlight.

"Our local produce is second to none and there are many community heroes and businesses worthy of national recognition.”