The Publican Awards 2011

We are the people that others go to to get away from their own troubles; we’re Happiness Engineers!

We're all Proud of Pubs

I’m between “professional blogging contracts” at the moment, following the sad closure of The Publican magazine after its recent purchase by William Reed Business Media, so I thought I’d use this place – my personal blog, a place where I usually write about Formula 1, how annoying my children can be, and unusually inane ideas that I haven’t really thought through properly – to write a blog that I would normally have send to Roland at The Publican to put on my page there.

Wednesday night saw the annual Publican Awards take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London. The event is held each year to celebrate and recognise the great and good of those of us who work in the pub and bar trade, and I’m lucky enough to have been invited along for three years now to take part in the festivities.

This year, though, it felt a little different. Firstly, my wife wasn’t with me so I was able to actually get on the dance floor without fear of her taking photographs of that car crash happening, but secondly – and more importantly – it was a way to say “goodbye” to people who have become friends over the past four years that I have been blogging for the magazine.

The event was presided over by Dara O’Briain, who threw in a great little comedy performance before handing over the awards to those victorious, and a list of them can be found by clicking here. They really should be applauded for their efforts: like many industries, these are difficult times for the pub trade, but what I feel makes us special is that we are the place that everybody goes to in order to relax and get away from their own troubles.

Our trading difficulties aren’t unique, although many can sometimes seem to think that the issues we face only exist here in Pub World and nowhere else, but we are still the place that the rest of the world comes to in order to escape daily life, and that means we’re providing a service that is unique.

A technician at WordPress, the company that hosts this personal blog for me, wrote to me recently to answer a query I’d put to him. His e-mail signature told me that his position within his company was a “Happiness Engineer”. He certainly made me happy by fixing the issue for me, but those of us in the pub trade could truly be described as Happiness Engineers. We make other people happy, that’s what we do for a living, and these people have this year won awards for it. Well done to them!

Wednesday night, then, was one of those special nights, tinged with the bitter sweetness of celebration and the end of an era. So I took some photographs!

Publican Awards 2011

Feel free to have a click around the images, or why not have a look at these videos: For such a Formula 1 fan, I make a monumental cock up with the pit stop challenge on the Red Bull stand and, on his own go, Ed Davies – licensee of Kilverts in Hay-on-Wye – managed to injure his finger. Not that he noticed at first. Thankfully, he didn’t notice I called him Mitch, either…

The Publican magazine has merged with the Morning Advertiser, and a new magazine has been formed called The Publican’s Morning Advertiser. I hope to be able to keep up my pub blogs with them, so watch this space.

Meanwhile, Publican team – Matt Eley, Hamish Champ, James Wilmore, Roland Ellison, Claire Dodd, and the many more that I’ve spoken with or dealt with over the years – thank you very much for having given me the opportunity to write with you since 2008, and for the happy memories. Please keep in touch…

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