The owners of a pub declared the best in South Oxfordshire have been presented with their award.

Rodney and Hannah Parker, owners of the George in Sutton Courtenay were recognised by the South Oxfordshire Campaign for Real Ale (SOCRA) in a presentation on Thursday, March 23.

The pub beat out the Spire & Spoke in Watlington, the Plough in Long Wittenham, the Red Lion in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell and the Plum Pudding in Milton.

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Mr Parker said: “I was very surprised to even get into that list of the top five. We are an ale pub, but we don’t have six or seven varieties, just a couple, but we make sure they’re kept in good order.

“It was fantastic, but it wasn’t expected because we’re a small operation and we are wet led.

“It’s good for businesses and good to be recognised especially with the tough times with businesses at the moment.”

Mr and Mrs Parker took over The George in the last week of November 2019 when brewery company Oak Taverns bought it from Greene King.

“Trade had been very quiet, and it was quite run down, and it hadn’t been making a lot of money,” said Mr Parker. “It had changed hands a lot.

“I saw the potential as it’s a beautiful pub and I’ve been in the trade for a while.”

However, just a few months after they took over, the business was hit by the effect of the covid pandemic.

Mr Parker said “It was a real shock and obviously not expected. The support that the government gave us at that time – I don’t think they could have helped out anymore than they did. It was a scary time, but it also really helped being backed by Oak Taverns.”

He said the business was now running smoothly and hoped the award would help it improve further.

“We have turned it around,” he said. “She’s turned into a great community pub now. The village has been very supportive.

“She’s a humming little pub and we’re very busy on the weekend. With the river being so close by, we get a lot of walk-by trade.

“Going from a Greene King pub to a free house made people come in. We really pushed the fact that it was a free house.”

When asked the secret of running the best pub in South Oxfordshire. Mr Parker said: “It’s about making people feel comfortable.

“It is also the simple things like making sure our beers are good and fresh and the pub is clean.

“We make sure children feel invited, but it’s also about keeping it as a quintessential English pub. We have got a lovely garden, and we hope people go away and talk about us.”