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Carlisle pub wins national Heart of the Community Award

Licensees Tony and Michelle Grierson at The Reiver

[T]he Reiver on Holmrook Road, Carlisle has beaten off competition from over 1,000 pubs around the UK to win the Heart of the Community Award in national awards run by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The pub was also a regional winner for Best Live Sports pub in the North of England.

Licensees Tony and Michelle Grierson received the prestigious prizes at a gala celebration night in Manchester from Coronation Street star Kym Marsh.

Tony and Michelle receiving their award from Kym Marsh

For the Heart of the Community Award, the judges were looking for the pub that made the most difference to its community and was its favourite ‘local’. They were bowled over by The Reiver’s range of activities and warm welcoming atmosphere, the central role it plays in local life and the testimony of customers, who described the pub as their ‘home from home’.

Life-long Carlisle residents, the Griersons took over The Reiver seven years ago. During that time they have transformed it from a little used men’s pub into a thriving community hub popular with everyone from mothers and toddlers to senior citizens, creating 22 jobs in the process. With the help of a £360,000 refurbishment, the couple have made The Reiver a comfortable meeting place for residents adding a children’s play area and coffee lounge and introducing home cooked food and darts and snooker.

The judges commended The Reiver as a ‘centre of social life’ with activities on daily ranging from bingo and quizzes to sports screenings and live music as well as big community events such as children’s Easter and Christmas parties and even a hustings during the recent General Election. Fundraising fetes and fun days raise thousands of pounds for local charities with Eden Valley Hospice a favourite cause.

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director said: “The award standards were very high but The Reiver stood out both for the role it plays in local life and for being the perfect place to watch sports. To be recognised in two categories is an outstanding achievement – Tony and Michelle’s hard work and commitment make it a gem of a pub, the heart of the community and the place people turn to find out what is going on.”

Says Michelle: “We’re overwhelmed and over the moon. To win these awards is amazing; when we took over The Reiver hardly anyone came in, now we’re often packed. It’s an award for the whole area – The Reiver is their pub and they’ve supported us every step of the way in the changes we’ve made.”

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