A LOUD cheer went up in the bar when landlord David Patalong took the phone call telling his staff they had won Oxford’s pub of the year award.
Far From the Madding Crowd in Friars Entry, in the city centre, has beaten off tough competition from five other pubs on the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) shortlist.
“I knew CAMRA would be calling, so I put the pub phone on loud speaker and when people in the pub realised we had won, a massive cheer went up,” said Mr Patalong, 29.
“I’m amazed that we have won because all the pubs on the shortlist are great. Maybe one of them will win next year.
“This is a great accolade and I hope it will mean even more people will come into our pub, although we are already pretty busy.
“I have been running this pub with my partner Lauren McGill for the past two years and we have a number of beer festivals throughout the year featuring real ales, and a very busy quiz and curry night on Sunday.”
He added: “I would like to thank all the people who have supported us over the past two years, including Charles Eld, the former chief executive of Morrells Brewery, who is the owner, and people at Oxford Camra who chose us for the award.”
Ms McGill, 25, added: “We are delighted and it was great to hear everyone cheering when we found out the result.”
CAMRA members visited the pubs on the shortlist to check criteria, including staff being sympathetic to real ale.
Pubs also needed to demonstrate good customer-staff relations and have a friendly atmosphere.
Matt Bullock, a spokesman for Oxford CAMRA, said Far From the Madding Crowd received the most votes when branch members met at the Griffin pub in Witney to choose the winner.
He said: “A couple of years ago the pub could be a bit quiet, but it is packed most nights now, and there is a very positive attitude from staff towards real ale.
“All six pubs on the list could have won; they are all cracking.”
Last year’s winner was The Old Bookbinders Arms in Jericho.
CAMRA members will present their award on Wednesday.
Far From the Madding Crowd is a free house which opened in 2002 and is named after the Thomas Hardy novel.
It offers food but shuns TV, pool tables and jukeboxes.
Facilities include WIFI, disabled access, daily newspapers, live music and board games, and the pub welcomes families.