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The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst wins national pub award for ‘stand-out’ operation

LYNDHURST pub licensees have won a national award for their “innovative approach” and for “establishing themselves at the heart of the community”.

The Stag was named Greene King Pub of the Year at the Great British Pub Awards during a ceremony at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester earlier this month.

It was one of just 17 pubs across the country, from thousands of entries, to receive an accolade, with categories ranging from Best Pub for Food to Best Pub for Sport and Best Pub Garden.

Maria Harris (second from right) with her team at The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst
Maria Harris (second from right) with her team at The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst

The Stag team, led by Maria and Steve Harris, went through a gruelling, multi-stage judging process which involved a surprise visit and the consideration of online reviews.

Having taken on the premises in February 2020, just before the Covid pandemic hit and having never worked in the hospitality industry before, Maria and Steve have raised tens of thousands for local good causes and allowed community groups the use of their facilities free of charge.

The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst
The Stag Hotel in Lyndhurst

They said: “We are very proud to accept this award on behalf of the team and the punters. When we purchased The Stag at Lyndhurst in lockdown, we wanted to make it feel like a community hub, where people can come and enjoy a quiet pint or enjoy one of our live music weekly functions.”

Ed Bedington, chair of judges for the Great British Pub Awards, run by The Morning Advertiser, said: “The awards are designed to identify and celebrate some of the best pubs in the country, and we’re delighted that we’re able to give The Stag at Lyndhurst the recognition it deserves as a fantastic operation and one that is sure to have the customers flocking from far and wide.

“Pubs are a vital part of the fabric of our society, playing a huge role in communities and offering a wide range of services to support and bring people together.

“The Stag should be very proud to be named one of the best in the country, as should the community and customers that help make it what it is.”

Labelling the venue a “stand-out operation on the high street”, the award judges said it had been “transformed under the care and attention of its fantastic operators”.

"Marie and Steve Harris have only been running the Greene King site for the last three years, and were new to the trade when they took it on just before the Covid pandemic hit.

“Despite those challenges, they used the lockdowns to transform what had previously been a run-down site, and have created a business that in three short years has already started to garner serious awards.

“The couple have quickly established themselves at the heart of the community in Lyndhurst, providing facilities and events for the area’s organisations and charities, as well as campaigning and raising considerable amounts of money, including for the local Christmas lights fund.

“An innovative approach to running a pub has seen the couple not only embrace dogs at the site, but even provide washing facilities in the garden for muddy pooches and offering a doggy-focused Sunday roast, which has proven a hit.”

The Stag has 11 bedrooms, a large pub garden and car park, and serves popular pub classics like beer battered fish and chips with minted crushed peas, and steak and cheese burger with onion rings and fries.

For more information, visit thestaghotel.co.uk, call 023 8028 2999 or follow The Stag Hotel Lyndhurst on Facebook.

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