Preston's Red Lion shortlisted as one of UK's best pubs
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 November 2019
An award-winning hostelry near Hitchin has been named as one of the top four pubs in the country.
The Red Lion free house, in Preston, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Campaign for Real Ale's prestigious Pub of the Year award - with the overall winner to be announced in February next year.
The pub will vie for the title alongside three other finalists - The Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, the George & Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, and The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire.
This latest achievement tops a stellar year for The Red Lion - having been crowned CAMRA's best pub in Hertfordshire this summer, and then proceeding to win Best Pub in East Anglia. The win made them one of the top 16 pubs in the country.
Ray Lambe, who has been the landlord at the pub for 11 years, said he is "so proud" with what the pub has achieved.
"It's unchartered territory for us", said Ray. "Winning Hertfordshire pub of the year was our grand ambition, and to get to this national stage - when you can almost smell the finish line - is something I can't quite believe.
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"The further we've progressed, the more we've started to imagine winning the whole competition. It's definitely something to look forward to over Christmas."
The Red Lion has also been voted CAMRA's North Hertfordshire Pub of the Year three years in succession.
Speaking about his pub's success, Ray added: "It's a great endorsement for the power of community spirit. Having been bought by the villagers of Preston in the early 1980s we have proven that with hard work and community involvement, community pubs can thrive."
The Red Lion - which sits off Preston village green - is the first community-owned pub in Britain, having been bought by villagers in 1982 to ward off redevelopment.
A special event to mark the pub's latest achievement will be held at the pub on Sunday, November 24.
Andrea Briers - CAMRA's regional director for East Anglia - offered his congratulations, saying: "Red Lion are a very deserving finalist in the Pub of the Year Awards. We wish them luck as they enter the final round of judging."
All of the pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers - with competitors judged on atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix and quality of beer.