LAST month the Queen Elizabeth Inn in Elmley Castle won the Pub of the Year award run by the Evesham Journal, the Worcester News' sister title.

The Queen Elizabeth is a community-run pub and this principle, of serving the needs of the local area, is what makes the traditional village inn so special, say the shareholders.

The pub takes its name from a visit by Queen Elizabeth I to the town in 1575, and until 2014 was privately run.

When the previous landlady retired, a group of 26 residents took on the task of refurbishing and renovating the building, eventually re-opening the pub in December that year.

The group decided on making the pub a community-run enterprise, with both full time and volunteer staff keeping the place going.

Neil Lavender-Jones, part of the team that runs the pub, said: “The difference we have is that we want to be a real focal point for the community.

“Community run pubs are a rarity across the country but it is great to have so many people giving up their time voluntarily to keep the pub going. It is a different take on managing a pub but it helps us create a place where everyone is welcome.”

Neil admits it has been a sharp learning curve taking over the pub, having previously run part of an engineering firm in the Far East before coming home to Britain to join in running the inn.

“It has been quite an interesting experience and it has been a fast learning curve," he said.

“We are really grateful to all the people who got into running this place properly.”

In addition to winning the Evesham Journal’s Pub of the Year competition, the Queen Elizabeth Inn was also awarded the title of ‘Best Tourist Pub’ by Visit Worcestershire.

Neil said: “We were honoured to receive those awards, it shows that running a pub as a community and with volunteers can work.

“We want to be a welcoming place for disparate groups of people.”