Linton pub the Windmill has beaten off competition from over 1,100 to win the Heart of the Community award run by Heineken Star Pubs and Bars.
Licensee Janet Bilton received the prestigious prize at a gala celebration night from football legend and broadcaster Chris Kamara.
The judges were looking for the pub that made the most difference to its community and were bowled over by the range of activities that Janet runs at the Windmill and the central role the pub plays in village life.
Since taking over the pub 12 years ago, Janet has been committed to restoring it as a community hub that the whole village can use.
“It’s what life’s all about, people getting together and making things work,” said Janet.
The judges felt that Janet had fulfilled her ambition of building the Windmill into a popular pub which employs 30 people.
As well as providing a meeting place for community groups, the pub raises money for local charities and hosts a busy programme of village events from Linton’s bonfire night and children’s Hallowe’en party to its Santa’s grotto and an annual beer festival. Pub staff even maintain the village bus stop and help set up events at the village hall.
“The Windmill Inn is the only pub in Linton, a village with no shop, and under Janet’s stewardship it has truly become the heart of the community; a place where there’s always a warm welcome, people can come together and that gives back to the local area,” said Chris Jowsey, trading director for Star Pubs and Bars.
“Janet’s success is testimony to the important role the great British pub continues to play in society in the 21st century.”
Janet added: “I’m over the moon and the staff are thrilled.
“I fell in love with the Windmill when I first saw it and 12 years later I still feel the same.
“It’s the perfect pub; a beautiful building in a lovely village, with lovely customers and a great team of staff.
“They all make the Windmill special and The Heart of the Community Award wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
Despite the Windmill’s win, Janet is not resting on her laurels.
“I like to keep things vibrant and would love to try a village drive in movie in our car park next year,” added Janet.