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The BII thrives on the diversity of its 13,000 plus members, and through case studies and interviews we're able to find out more about some of the individuals that make up our network in the licensed trade.

Click on any of the links below to read about the personal experience and benefits individuals have found since becoming members of the BII.

Tim & Jos Nash MBII 

Running a pub in a small village may have seemed like a romantic idea, but behind the cosy and welcoming atmosphere lie numerous challenges. Tim and Jos Nash MBII, the operators of the crown inn in Lanlivery, Cornwall, share their story and insights with the BII’s Ben Mueller MBII

Tim and Jos Nash’s introduction into the pub industry was not through the usual route. Living in Lanlivery in Cornwall, a small village with a lacklustre pub experience, they saw an opportunity when the lease for the local pub became available. 

“In our small village, the pub was a central hub of social activity. However, over the years it had lost its charm and sense of community. Having grown up in the village and waitressed back in my youth, I remembered how busy and lively the pub used to be, and Tim and I truly believed we could bring it back to that,” says Jos. This belief, coupled with their complementary skill sets – Tim’s background in clothing retail and customer service, and Jos’s expertise in event management and compliance – they took the leap into running their first pub. 

The reality of running a pub has naturally brought its fair share of challenges. 

One of the biggest hurdles was underestimating rising costs. Despite meticulous planning and forecasting, and allowing a 20% increase across the board, it wasn’t enough. The energy price hikes, which affected most other suppliers, including laundry which, for example, went up 28% and had a huge impact on profitability. 

“Our rent alone went up 28% just after the first full year’s trading owing to a big jump in RPI which the lease is linked to,” says Tim. The minimum wage increase, although factored in, has had another big impact with another rise due in April 2024. Tim and Jos count themselves lucky with their very loyal and dedicated team, and they have made concerted efforts to retain them through fair treatment and occasional perks. 

“We applied a small loyalty increase. So for every year you work, your pay goes up. It’s letting them know that we are looking after them and rewarding their long service,” says Tim. 

Tim and Jos’s approach to staff management is focused on fair compensation and recognition, which has seen them maintain good retention rates. Additionally, occasional team outings and experiences, such as team dinners, strengthen camaraderie helping to build a really positive work culture. Encouraging young people to join their workforce has helped to solidify them in their community and ensures they are building a talent pipeline for the future of the pub. 

In the face of rising costs, Tim and Jos knew that they needed to keep a close eye on their cashflow, and have always kept a very close eye on the numbers, ensuring they continuously review and adapt their business plan. “We look at our margins and cashflow all the time to see where we can tweak stuff. We also check what costs we have coming in on a daily basis,” says Tim. They closely monitor expenses, scrutinise invoices, and make necessary adjustments to maintain their gross profit margins making sure to keep a good balance of quality and value. This approach allows them to be agile and adaptable, meaning they can tackle each challenge head-on, while staying true to their vision for the pub. 

Setting their pub apart from others in the area, Tim and Jos focused on creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere, bringing the best bits of traditional pubs into The Crown Inn. They consciously avoided the trend of gastro-pub transformation, instead prioritising quality food and a dedicated space for drinkers, allowing them to take care of their regulars, keeping them at the heart of their community. Embracing sustainability, they source local produce and minimise waste, reflecting their commitment to their rural community and its values. “We don’t use any single use plastics, and none of our waste goes to landfill. We’re in the centre of quite a rural farming community. Our potatoes come from two fields away, they don’t even go into a freezer! We also got to make the most of our location and had venison and pheasant all last winter,” says Jos. 

Despite the challenges, one of the most rewarding moments for Tim and Jos came from seeing their pub bustling with life during Christmas. “It was like the whole village was in here. Wall-to-wall, rafter-to-rafter,” says Tim. 

The sense of community spirit among villagers is strong and reaffirms their belief in the importance of the pub as a social hub. Their efforts to create a welcoming space where locals can meet and feel at home have paid off in the form of positive feedback and a continuously growing loyal customer base. Trade continues to grow with a more than 60% increase in turnover since taking the pub on in 2022. Review scores have improved and they are now receiving consistent top marks on Trip advisor and Google. 

Reflecting on their journey, Tim and Jos offer valuable advice for aspiring pub owners. They emphasise the importance of careful financial planning, and maintaining a business-oriented mindset: “It is not simply enough to be a welcoming host!” They stress the need for realistic expectations and resilience in the face of setbacks. They also emphasise how important it is to thoroughly do your due diligence before buying into anything, “don’t accept that there is a Fire Certificate – get the certificate checked by a professional as this could save you some very expensive costs in the long run,” they advise. 

It’s about checking all the paperwork and if you are new to running pubs, use professionals to cast an eye on anything that is compliance based. Make sure that you’re making a decision based on business sense – use your head, not your heart, they say. 

“Be 100% sure you’re making a business decision, not a romantic fuzzy hot decision. And then, if you decide to go ahead, go for it! Be prepared for hard work. Running a pub is not for the faint-hearted but it certainly is exciting, challenging and rewarding.” 

Looking ahead, Tim and Jos’s primary goal is to achieve profitability and sustainability for their pub. Despite the financial challenges to the industry as a whole, they remain committed to their vision, using their experience and learning from past mistakes to steer their business towards success. With their focus on fantastic hospitality and their hard work to bring a sense of community, they will ensure that their pub remains a cherished institution in their village.

Paul Weeks FBII

Paul Weeks FBII has dabbled in almost every area of hospitality, since starting out as a teen over 30 years ago. From DJing in some of the UK’s biggest nightclubs, to venturing into life as a publican. Now, with a wealth of industry knowledge under his belt, Paul is the operations director at Advocate Pubs, a multiple pub operator with more than 30 sites. The BII’s Max Burke MBII report.


It seems as though Paul Weeks FBII has always been destined to work in the hospitality and pub sector. A passion formed at a young age has seen the then-Lincolnshire-based youngster embark on a career as a DJ, starting out in YMCAs and youth centres aged just 14, before going on to work in pubs, clubs and wedding venues. 

Exposure to a wide variety of venues has enabled Paul to build his knowledge of what it took to succeed in different locations. This led to a successful DJ sourcing and supplying business, working with some of the most popular late-night venues across the UK. 

Following many music-fuelled late nights while providing the rhythm for thousands to dance to each weekend, the passion for DJing started to dwindle for Paul, as he became more interested in the business side than the work on the decks. Thoughts such as ‘Why am I earning money for someone else when I could be doing it myself?’ started to cross his mind and it was then when he decided to make the switch to pubs. 

“I really enjoyed the management side more than I did the DJ business, so I started to dip my foot in the pub industry,” explains Paul. 

Paul’s work across so many venues over the years enabled him to build up an extensive contact list including many pub landlords and operators. After undertaking courses on running a pub with both Whitbread and Mitchells & Butlers, he took on a tenancy in The Parkinson Arms in Scunthorpe with Enterprise Inns in 2002, providing him a good grounding for a career running pubs. 

Early success at The Parkinson Arms lead to him taking on a second pub in Grimsby, The Tap and Spile. This Cask Ale venue proved incredibly popular with locals and even earned him a visit from the BII! 

Paul’s world was then rocked following the opening of a JD Wetherspoon pub in Scunthorpe, taking his trade in The Parkinson Arms down from £12k a week to £2k a week, within the space of three weeks. The following months proved difficult and ended up with Paul leaving his two venues in Grimsby and Scunthorpe, leading him to believe that his brief venture in pubs had come to an end. 

Despite the challenges with his first two pubs, Paul was determined to not let this derail his journey and it was his contacts once more that meant he could return to the industry. The Litten Tree in Grimsby had gone bankrupt and after conversations with a friend who was connected to the pub, he ended up getting keys to the venue, presenting him with his first venue free-of-tie. Paul did not look back and credits his BII membership as a factor on his successful journey there on. 

“That was when I joined the BII, meaning my membership is now 20 years old. I put my whole life and focus into the industry and in all honesty from there, I had the bug for pubs. I could get them, and it was almost like I had a golden touch.” 

The success Paul references came in the following years. He took on the incredibly successful County Hotel in Grimsby, a pub he still has to this day, and continued to grow his estate. Eventually he got to a point where he was involved in some way with 150 pubs, whether that be on his own, working with a company or alongside other people. 

Paul’s expertise and knowledge of the sector eventually enabled him to take up his current role as Operations Director at Advocate Pubs in 2018. Advocate are an operating company spanning 36 sites across the Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire area. 

When quizzed on his biggest success tips, the long-time Publican labels local knowledge as a huge factor when it comes to differentiating venues that are successful and those that aren’t. 

“Having knowledge of local people, the town, what it needs and doesn’t need can make such a difference. Personality-led businesses are the ones that are successful in our sector.”

Coupled with this, Paul goes onto explain that though this knowledge can be key, it is worthless if you don’t know your key data points, something that he confesses himself that he never used to look at when starting out. 

“Know what your break-even is, control your stock, control your cash, and drive your sales. You’ve really got to have some good financial understanding, that’s where I made my mistakes previously.

 “It’s all well and good arguing with a supplier to save a bit here and a bit there on a barrel of beer, but if you’re not concentrating on the fact you have four members of bar staff on when you only need one, then it makes it harder to be successful.” 

Despite the difficult trading conditions currently for licensees, Paul does believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, with more consolidation but plenty of opportunities on the horizon in this coming year. 

“It’s incredibly challenging at the moment, the business front is challenging. People make pubs, but the community-feel venues is where success lies at the minute. People want to go where they feel comfortable in a good, safe environment, which is why there will always be a place for hospitality.”

With his experience and longevity in the hospitality sector, Paul has been to several events and spoken to politicians. He is keen to continuously work for positive change and emphasise the importance of the industry to Government. 

For Paul, the BII provided a sense of belonging and recognition when new to the industry and would recommend it to any new licensee starting out. A membership that has spanned over 20 years has provided him with knowledge and assistance in navigating his way through the sector. 

“For anyone starting out it’s essential. There’s so many tools to help you when starting out and I would recommend it to anyone new to the business.” 

All of Paul’s thriving community hubs have provided a sense of purpose and belonging to so many across the years, and the East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire areas are bound to benefit further from Paul’s expertise for many years to come.

Alan Nichols MBII 

In the vibrant city of edinburgh, you’ll find a hidden gem that’s more than a typical pub. It’s a community hub where inclusivity, diversity, and a welcoming atmosphere are at the forefront. BII’s Ben Mueller MBII spoke to Alan Nichols MBII to find out more about his pub, The Regent.

Alan Nichols MBII’s journey into the world of hospitality and owning The Regent is a testament to his commitment to creating spaces that foster community and acceptance. With a passion for astronomy, which brought him to study in Edinburgh as an undergraduate, his first starring role was with a small café in Edinburgh’s LGBTQ+ center, where he sought to provide a welcoming environment for the local community. The café soon became a hub for people to connect, find support and simply enjoy belonging.

Alongside running the café, Alan was also a successful DJ for 13 years, and while the energy and excitement of the nightlife scene held its allure, as time went on, he found himself realising it was time for a change. “I was approaching 40, and I thought, you know what, I’m getting a bit too old for doing this DJ thing.” Passing The Regent every night on his way to DJ at a club, he saw the place fall into a state of disrepair and finally be closed down. Alan recalls: “It was in a real state. I mean, it had been closed for over a year and there was still a half jar of pickled eggs sitting on the bar.” It was like whoever had locked up that last night had just disappeared, he says. Determined to transform this neglected pub into something special, Alan dedicated about four months to renovating the place – and it was his hard work and passion that breathed new life into The Regent, transforming it into more than just a pub, but a haven for the LGBTQ+ community. He explains: “It couldn’t have been anything else if I was running it.”

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, it is a welcoming and relaxed environment, with an interior designed to exude warmth and charm. The atmosphere isn’t only down to the décor, but also the amazing staff who pride themselves on being friendly and always ready for a chat with customers. The Regent embraces all of those who walk through its doors. Alan explains: “I never wanted The Regent to be like an archetypal gay bar, with lots of UV lights and loud music. My whole plan centred around providing something that wasn’t on offer anywhere else at the time.” A special place for people to gather for a relaxed pint, engage in friendly conversation and enjoy a sense of camaraderie, without conforming to stereotypes often associated with gay bars. The Regent’s warm welcome extends beyond the LGBTQ+ community, attracting a diverse clientele that pays tribute to Alan’s determination to be truly inclusive. Over time, the pub has also evolved to become a safe haven for the transgender community – a safe space where they can socialise and enjoy the company of friends, without the fear of discrimination or prejudice.

The team actively engages with various LGBTQ+ charities in Edinburgh, and their collaboration with organisations like Waverley Care, a charity focused on HIV and AIDS, demonstrates their commitment to giving back to the community. The pub hosts fundraisers, including an annual event on World AIDS Day, where they partner with their brewer and other pubs. They each contribute a cask of ale, with the proceeds of the sales going to charity, a reflection of the pub’s mission to not only create a sense of community, but to also support worthy causes.

The Regent goes a step further in its commitment to the community by supporting local artists, providing them with a platform to showcase their work for a month at a time, without taking commission on any sales. Alan’s motivation for this approach is simple: “I just like the fact that our scenery changes once per month.” This practice not only adds to the pub’s vibrant and ever-evolving character, attracting customers back on a regular basis, but also encourages local artists to flourish.

Alan’s attitude and commitment earned him the title of Punch Publican of the Year in 2022, in recognition for all of the great work he does for pubs and his local community. In a conversation about his best advice for fellow licensees, Alan highlights the importance of taking care of your team. “The best tip is to look after your team. Make sure they’re happy, because they’re representing the business and they’re representing me. I want them to be happy and having a good time because if they’re having a good time, that will rub off on the customers.” 

With a focus on inclusivity, The Regent has transformed a neglected space into a thriving and essential community hub that welcomes people from all walks of life. Alan’s leadership and commitment to supporting local artists, engagement with charities, and his emphasis on caring for his team all contribute to the success of The Regent, making it a shining example of how a pub can be so much more than just a place to grab a drink. It can be a thriving community hub that benefits staff and customers alike.


Maggie Anderton MBII 

Maggie Anderton MBII runs the black swan inn in York’s city centre. It’s a popular old inn with a great variety of regulars, visitors and tourists – and even a few ghosts. The bii’s Teodora Pancheva MBII reports

York Minster, the worldfamous Gothic Cathedral, is considered to be the most haunted place in the city, but it has some serious competition. Just a stone’s throw away from the Cathedral’s steps is the Black Swan Inn, a half-timbered building dating back to the 15th century which is, according to licensee Maggie Anderton MBII, home to a handful of ghostly regulars. A traditional pub with three bar areas, the Black Swan Inn serves classic home-made steak and ale pies, fish and chips and, of course, giant Yorkshire puddings. But alongside the delicious homemade dishes and warm welcome, people choose to visit and stay overnight to try and experience some activity of a supernatural kind – more about this later!

Before becoming Landlady, Maggie had long been a regular of the Black Swan. She used to join her uncle and friends there for a beer and a chat, until one night, having left her job as a chef, Maggie ended up securing herself a job in the kitchen. That was more than 15 years ago. Good spirits were at work, because love blossomed between Maggie and the Landlord, Andy, and they got married and ran the old inn together until he sadly passed away in 2017. Since then, Maggie has been managing the pub alone, with the trusty support of her brilliant team.

Being in the heart of York, the pub attracts a variety of characters through the doors. “We get tourists during the summer season, but we’re also home to various clubs and groups who meet up here, so we see a lot of the same faces week-in and weekout,” says Maggie. “It’s a weird mix, but we have a lot of dedicated regulars, so it’s a win-win.” The group that has been meeting at the pub for possibly the longest is the Black Swan Folk Club, which has been a regular for more than 40 years. Maggie and her team collaborate with the group in the summer to host a Folk Music Festival. “We’ll have an outside stage, plus things like workshops going on in all of our different rooms – it’s always a highlight of the year,” she says.

The function room is always in high demand too, with birthdays, Christenings, anniversaries and more. “If people want space for something, we’ll do it,” says Maggie, adding that this extends to paranormal occasions. Over the years, Maggie has heard stories about the ghosts who frequent the pub, and while she hasn’t seen them all, she has witnessed strange goings on. “There’s a man who wanders around the kitchen, dressed in boots and a coat like he’s going riding. The kitchen is actually built over the old stable yard, back when the pub was a coaching inn way back when,” she says. Another ghostly visitor is a black cat, which bears a strong resemblance to the pub’s resident cat, Salem, creating lots of confusion among the team and guests. “There is also a little boy people see a lot. We call him Matthew and he’s supposed to be a pickpocket – and stuff does move. It turns back up, but always in a ridiculous place!” While some customers have no interest in ghosts or the stories, others will book themselves a room and a meal in the hope of spotting something spooky. “There are a surprising number of companies that do paranormal investigations. They will book our three bedrooms and stay up all night with their ghost hunting gadgets to see what they can find. We must have about 15 to 20 of those a year. People are really into it, especially around Halloween time.”

With the building being more than 600 years old, there have been a lot of changes over the centuries, so Maggie likes to keep the pub’s oldfashioned pub charm alive. There are no TVs and customer service remains face-to-face, without any apps. “The people who come here know what they want and I’m focused on building the trade we’ve got, rather than trying to push gimmick after gimmick,” she says, adding that she is working with her younger team members to help increase the pub’s social media presence. “I use social media in my spare time, but that’s different to creating and posting for a business, so the girls are more than happy to take control of that, as they know what they’re doing,” says Maggie.

The Black Swan’s cat, Salem, even gets in on the act with his own Facebook page. Maggie is passionate about looking after her team of 18 and likes to make sure that they are doing well, both in and outside of work. “I’ve worked in places before where I’ve dreaded going in – hating the very thought of it. I was miserable. I would never want someone working for me to feel that way.” She adds: “I am lucky that I have a really good team. I couldn’t do it without them, because without them none of this would be happening.”

Trying to keep footfall high in a big city like York can be a hard task, but the Black Swan has built a loyal community around it. “We make all our own food, and people keep coming back in for that. It’s hugely popular. On the weekends, people want a good meal and they know that if they come here, they won’t be served microwaveable meals but homemade food,” says Maggie. The Black Swan has become a staple place for the community and others. “If you didn’t know us, you’d walk in and think it was an old man’s boozer – but it isn’t. I think that’s part of what makes us so special. We have different faith groups, music groups, hobbyists… everyone. It really is somewhere for anyone – everyone’s welcome,” says Maggie. Regular, tourist, visitor or ghost, the Black Swan has stood strong for over 600 years, providing a warm welcome to all. And when it comes to an overall customer experience – it has got oodles of charm with an added measure of good spirits.


Rachel Truman MBII - The Duke of Cornwall & The Carlyon Arms 

Based in st austell, the largest town in the county of cornwall, Rachel Truman MBII manages two distinctive and thriving local venues. The duke of Cornwall boasts a bed and breakfast offering, attracting visitors from near and far, while the Carlyon Arms offers the locals the chance to get involved in all things entertainment across the week. The BII’s Max Burke MBII reports

Prior to becoming a licensee, Rachel Truman MBII was working as a Teaching Assistant at a local school. When her husband Richard mentioned the idea of taking over his favourite local as a new business venture, she didn’t think twice. Richard’s “Shall we just go for it?” was all the encouragement Rachel needed. Following a successful interview with St Austell Brewery, the pair became tenants of The Duke of Cornwall (known as The Duke), proving that a career in the hospitality industry can provide a fresh spark for anyone, no matter the stage of their working life. Fast forward seven-and-a-half years and Rachel now manages two pubs, recently acquiring the Carlyon Arms situated just five minutes down the road from The Duke. Despite confessing to loving life as a licensee, there are no current plans for Rachel to take over another venue. “I think two’s enough to be honest,” Rachel chuckles. “It takes up a lot of my time at the minute!”

It is not just Rachel and Richard that run the two venues, their son and two daughters help too, and in doing so, continue the family-run tradition of The Duke, which has been a pub since the mid-19th century. The Duke’s ageing infrastructure has provided Rachel with a few challenges: issues with damp resulted in making changes to the pub, including the use of an open fire, to help combat the problem. The traditional two-room layout of The Duke provides Rachel’s the flexibility of having a bar and separate lounge area, which she believes has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to the success of this local favourite. The bed and breakfast offering at The Duke attracts visitors both locally and from out-of-town. Recognising the need to maintain high standards within this offering, all rooms were renovated as en-suite in early 2023, something Rachel labels her best investment since taking over the venue. “It was something that really needed doing, we felt the rooms had let the pub down a bit. We don’t get any complaints anymore. It’s brilliant really.” Although the refurbishment came too late for the potentially uplifting Easter trade last year, it did give them the chance to increase the overnight room rate, which allowed Rachel to breakeven for the year – plus her income has been boosted by customers now booking directly, instead of via booking. com, which saves them the agent’s fee.

With the growing interest in UK staycations, Rachel is now looking forward to reaping rewards this upcoming Easter. “Post-Covid, we saw a big initial uptake when people could travel but not abroad, it is not at that level, but it’s increased since pre-pandemic and Easter is really where we see the bulk of our visitors. Lots of people come down for holidays during that time. It’s an important part of our trade.” The bed and breakfast offer at The Duke provides the only food offering at the venue, with Rachel serving breakfast for all customers personally. Having tried a more extensive food offer many times, the number of takeaway restaurants situated across the road from the pub has always meant that dry trade has proved difficult.

Rachel has not let this be to her hinderance however, instead turning it into a business opportunity. She explains: “We are quite happy for people to bring takeaways in. We supply them with plates and cutlery and as long as they buy a drink we have no problem at all.” Although it may seem a simple local’s pub on the face of it, The Duke provides an offering that not many, if any, other pubs in the UK can say they have – a twilight escape room. Following conversations with a friend during the pandemic, Rachel decided to convert an old room at the back of the pub into the escape room, which has proved hugely popular with customers, whether that be on a rainy summer’s day or for a work Christmas party. This extra source of income made a massive difference to trade at The Duke, with many customers opting to visit the bar before or after they go about their escape room activity.
Ultimately, the success and selfsufficient nature of The Duke has enabled Rachel and Richard to take over their second pub, the Carlyon Arms. The couple are placing a different emphasis on this vibrant venue, which hosts several pool and darts nights during the week and live music every Friday night. “We’ve gone in there and brought it up-to-date a little bit, put a few new pool tables in and a new jukebox. We’ve got the vibe back.”

Furthermore, Rachel is keen to stress the importance of social media in building up their new venue, detailing the success it has brought the Carlyon Arms and offering tips for any licensees who may be in a similar situation. “Try and advertise everything. The more you post, the more you grow your followers, and we have a good following. We make sure to keep up with events, plugging the rugby that has been shown, Halloween and all of the seasons. Anything you can put on there, you should. Even if it’s just pictures of drinks to pique people’s interest,” she says.

As one of the BII’s most active responders to the weekly INNfocus newsletter, Rachel is clearly not one to stand still, always looking to read new information and add another string to her bow. Such is the strength of the hospitality industry, her adventure alongside her family shows the enrichment it brings to so many, no matter when in their professional career they decide to join. Who knows, maybe St Austell could do with another one of Rachel’s pubs after all!


Vicky and John Judson FBII

BII sustainability champions, Vicky and John Judson FBII know a thing or two about taking a green-fingered approach to growing their business, The George, a 15th century inn at the heart of the beautiful village of Castleton in Derbyshire’s peak district. The BII’s Teodora Pancheva MBII reports


Castleton is a small village with just 300 residents, but attracts tourists and others with its scenic walks and famous caves and caverns. Under the ancient ruins of Peveril Castle, on the quiet Castle Street, is The George, a Wells & Co pub, operated by Vicky and John Judson FBII since 2018. Experienced licensees, having run another pub locally for many years, the couple arrived at The George with a good knowledge of the area, accompanied by their most loyal customers and team members – many of whom have been with them for 17 years. Having refurbished the pub, the couple then looked to expand the business and purchased a neighbouring house with a plot of land attached. While planning restrictions wouldn’t allow them to build on the land, a seed of an idea germinated in September 2022, leading to the cultivation of an ambitious allotment project, which has seen the creation of 29 raised beds growing delicious home-grown produce for the pub’s kitchen. This successful project has become the talk of the town, as Vicky and John grow a wide range of produce, from cauliflower and carrots, to berries and tomatoes. It all gets harvested and is used to create dishes for their special’s menus, either as part of a dish or to feature as a jam, chutney or sauce. “There are only 300 people living here and we are the village local. We have a tourist menu with pie, fish and chips, burgers and so on, but for the specials we use the produce from the garden, and we also use local suppliers. We have gained a fanbase and our loyal customers keep coming back,” says John.


Community Since first developing the garden, they have put up greenhouses, installed a polytunnel and, most recently, established beehives. John and Vicky have also built strong connections with the local community, who have been more than happy to help by offering their own produce and even additional land. As word has spread, more locals have become involved, with the Judsons growing a whole network of people offering a variety of produce. And in return they give back something they’ve made, which could be anything from jams and chutneys to flavoured vodkas. “It’s a village community. Everybody brings along their surplus produce – it’s lovely,” says Vicky. “We have had enough rhubarb to make crumble for four months, but that’s boring. So, we have also used it in some of the specials, serving it with venison for instance. We have also made flavoured gins and used the leftover pulp to create boozy rhubarb and ginger jam.” Vicky loves chatting about the garden and sharing new ideas, so much so that she says customers in the pub can spend whole sessions talking to her about little else. And the interest has spread outside of the four walls of The George. “A lot of locals, or people staying in the campsite, will walk down just to visit the garden and to see what they will be eating that night,” she says. The garden provides other benefits too, from cost cutting to marketing. “We find that when people know a dish contains ingredients from our garden, it sells really quickly because people appreciate the fact that it’s homegrown.” They have also created about 40 lines of flavoured products in jars and bottles to sell. “When people realise we make our own home-made sauces, they’ll end up buying some to take home,” says Vicky


New ideas As an experienced chef, John is always using his food knowledge to find ways to reinvent dishes, so that whatever produce is available, it can be put to good use at The George. “I always tell my staff that when I was younger and working in the kitchen, I wish I had had Google! We either had to watch what others were doing, or find it in a recipe book. Now, we keep an iPad in the kitchen – it’s the best tool out there.” The George’s Head Chef, Billy, has been with the Judsons for an impressive 17 years and John likes to give Billy and the team, including the newest staff members, the freedom to pick and choose what to make with their ingredients. New ideas have seen the team expanding from jams and crumbles into making ice cream and sorbets. John says: “It’s hard to get chefs, but we find that if you keep them engaged and interested, rather than sticking to the same repetitive tasks every day, it’s makes the whole experience a lot better.” Part of the couple’s sustainable approach sees them also thinking of ways to ensure any by-products are not discarded, like the aforementioned pulp from flavoured vodka. “By repurposing everything, we’ve cut down on how much we throw out, meaning we’ve saved about £150 off bin tax a month – it’s a factor people often forget about,” says John.


With September 2023 bringing to a close the end of their first full year with the garden, John and Vicky took the opportunity to learn about what worked and what didn’t. For instance, while 75-80% of the garden worked well, there are areas with more direct sunlight that affects what can be successfully grown there. “It has been a bit of trial and error, but that’s what gardening is – it’s unpredictable.” To get the best from their garden for the upcoming year, they have been working with a friend who can provide drone footage of the area. Using this overview, they can plot out where everything should go, along with taking advantage of all available space, including planting herbs and peas on the garage roof. “The owners of the field next door Vicky loves chatting about the garden and sharing new ideas, so much so that she says customers in the pub can spend whole sessions talking to her about little else. And the interest has spread outside of the four walls of The George. “A lot of locals, or people staying in the campsite, will walk down just to visit the garden and to see what they will be eating that night,” she says. The garden provides other benefits too, from cost cutting to marketing. “We find that when people know a dish contains ingredients from our garden, it sells really quickly because people appreciate the fact that it’s homegrown.” They have also created about 40 lines of flavoured products in jars and bottles to sell. “When people realise we make our own home-made sauces, they’ll end up buying some to take home,” says Vicky. New ideas As an experienced chef, John is always using his food knowledge to find ways to reinvent dishes, so that whatever produce is available, it can be put to good use at The George. “I always tell my staff that when I was have allowed me space for three beehives. I’ve ordered the bees online – which is weird thing to say,” says John. And along with a move into beekeeping and honey production, they are also planning to increase the number of raised beds, get more beehives and install solar panels. Inspired by our BII Ambassadors’ Lee and Keris De Villiers, Licensee of the Year Award 2023 finalists, the couple are currently in talks with local holiday home owners and village residents about setting up a SAVE the DRAIN scheme. This will see The George collecting people’s waste oil for recycling. “Every day is a school day,” says John, concluding that it’s always nice to learn about what other operators are doing and see how they might be able to do something.


If you’re looking to create your own pub garden, John and Vicky share their best advice on starting out: “Start off small – work on stuff you know you’re going to use. We always recommend pea shoots, they’re quick and easy and always on the menu.” “Never expect everything to work – gardening is a process, not everything grows. Learn from mistakes and change for next time.” “You don’t need to buy new – take an empty tub, make holes in it and now you have a planter. You can always find something to repurpose without spending money for new stuff.” “When it starts growing, figure out how to use every part of it – whether that will be in a sauce, gin, jam or as compost for the next project.”


Jack Taylor FBII

Based in Staffordshire, a county renowned for its beers and brewing, Jack Taylor FBII manages several craft beer venues and is a nationwide beer distributor. The devil’s Taphouse & Bottlehouse in Stafford and the hideout in leek provide beer lovers a choice of how and when to enjoy, at home or in the pub. The BII’s Max Burke MBII reports


Jack Taylor FBII never did well at school, in fact he confesses to hating the whole experience, but his first job in a pub provided him with the inspiration he needed, and today he is proof of how the hospitality sector can play a key role in transforming young people’s lives – by putting them on course for a meaningful and successful future. Upon leaving school, Jack got himself a job as a pot wash at a pub in his hometown of Stone, a market town just north of Stafford. It wasn’t long before this hardworking and enthusiastic entrepreneur began climbing the career ladder, with rapid progression that saw him promoted into the role of Operations Director of a local restaurant, aged 18. Just a year later he was entrusted with taking on a new venue, The Bear, for Marston’s at the tender age of 19. Jack explains: “We did a £250,000 refurbishment with Marston’s directly and built The Bear up to a really great live music venue. It was at this point that I joined the BII”. Jack could not speak highly enough of his membership and the benefits he has received. Being trusted with such a business, whilst still a teenager, reaffirmed the potential and confidence that was evident in Jack early on.


When Covid hit, Jack saw an opportunity to supply people at home with everything from beer glasses to beer. And so, when the first lockdown ended, Jack was well on his way with his next venture, The Devil’s Taphouse. Opening on September 11, 2020, he was quick to capitalise on the cheap rent that was available at that time. But the opportunity turned out to be short-lived. “Within six weeks we got closed back down again because of Covid. I like to adapt to situations quickly, and overnight we turned the pub into a beer shop. We also started selling a few essential items, to keep the council happy. If you’re not willing to adapt, then you are going to be left behind,” he says. His success with the craft beer shop meant that as soon as restrictions were lifted, Jack seized the chance to expand his business ventures, opening The Devil’s Bottlehouse just two doors down from the Taphouse. And he has since acquired The Hideout in Leek, plus another bar nearby, which will also sell craft beer and cask after it is refurbished. All his venues are 100% wet. “We want to focus on the people who want to come into a venue and just be able to have a decent pint or drink. We don’t want to take the focus off what we do well.” Despite the lack of any food offering, Jack says the pandemic has provided an additional revenue stream for his businesses, as people’s lifestyle changes means that kegs of craft beer for home consumption are still in demand. The Great British Beer Company sells to over 400 breweries, distillers and cider manufacturers. Standing still is not in Jack’s DNA. As he enters his 11th year in hospitality, the youngest Fellow of the BII is continuously making investment into his businesses – almost £250,000 in the last 12 months alone. But his most valuable asset, he says, is his team of 80 staff. “Find good staff, invest in them and make them feel like everything they’re doing is going to make a difference to the business. As long as you give back to them and treat staff well, that’s the best investment you can make.”


Jack likes to be authentic and takes a genuine approach with his staff. He likes to use social media as a key promotion tool. “We’re not trying to be a big corporate company. We’re trying to be a pub company that likes to do things well. We are realistic and like to be approachable. I think that helps most people in life.” Jack’s success with social media has caught the attention of other brewers, which have got in touch to offer to do tap takeovers at the bars. Choice and variation are key to the bar’s successes, as Jack likes to have two regular beers and the rest on rotation, changing daily in order to keep people coming back to try new flavours and styles. He likes to take advice, chatting to brewers and having a suggestion box for customers to nominate new beers. Looking ahead, Jack is well aware of the challenges, especially the alcohol duty changes. This and the continuously high maintenance costs means Jack is hoping for good news in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, but he’s already making plans to cover all bases, as they prepare for winter. As someone the BII has recently recognised as a Fellow, having been a member since 2019, but in the industry for ten years, Jack has nothing but good words to say about how the BII has supported him throughout his journey. “I was taken aback to receive the Fellowship, especially as I’m one of the youngest. It was really nice to be awarded that for giving so much back to the industry. Everything the BII does is for the people.” On Jack’s office wall is a quote from his old school business teacher, who co-incidentally is now a regular at one of his bars: “Taylor, you’ll never make anything of yourself.” It is rather pleasing to know that Jack’s former teacher is now a customer and has got to see what a successful career and life he has made, not only for himself, but for his team of people – both now and for the foreseeable future.


Penny Doe and Kylie Turkoz Ferguson FBII

The Bell Inn in Castle Hedingham, Essex, has been standing since 1440 and serving the community as an inn since at least 1592. But licensees (and sisters) Penny Doe FBII and Kylie Turkoz-Ferguson are anything but stuck in the past, taking on this historic pub with a very forward thinking ethos, when it comes to operating sustainably. The BII’s Peter Baskett MBII reports


The Bell Inn is a long-established pub, purchased in 1884 by Walter Gray and remaining a Gray & Sons inn ever since. The field behind the pub used to grow hops, centuries ago, and true to its history, The Bell maintains a hop garden out back to this day. Passed down from mother to daughters in 1999, the pub is currently run by sisters Penny and Kylie. They recently achieved the BII Sustainability Champion status for the incredible effort they put into ensuring that The Bell Inn is as environmentally friendly as possible. With minimal alterations to the original structure, the pub maintains its old world charm, even boasting a Georgian Long Room, which in years past would have accommodated meetings and balls in the village. From the old arcade games and pinball machines, to the vintage decor and working fireplace, it is clear that the pub’s longstanding history has been embraced. While the sisters have made a phenomenal effort to lean into the historical elements of the pub and its surroundings, they have made an even greater effort to ensure that some things – such as single use glass bottles – remain in the past.


The sustainable pub journey started in front of a television screen, where the pair were inspired by David Attenborough’s documentaries, which illustrated all too clearly the extent of the damage that humanity is causing to our planet. In Kylie’s own words, Penny likes to get things done, rather than just talking or complaining about something. So, they took to their kitchen to see how they could start, and quickly found that they could eliminate cling film by opting for paper packaging options and tin foil. “That was actually really easy. We still use foil, but we haven’t used cling film since 2017. You have to get creative, but you actually feel quite proud when you discover a new way to do things,” says Kylie. They emphasise the power of taking small actions wherever possible, as this is not only how they started, but how they continue to drive sustainable change in their business. Since some of the bigger actions, like installing solar panels, aren’t always an option, they want people to know that the little steps still make a difference. “You can’t just say ‘well we aren’t going to do anything because whatever we do isn’t going to make a difference’ If everybody said that, then nothing would ever happen,” says Kylie. “Hopefully, by us talking about it with you and with our customers, it might help get the message across to people who are wavering a bit, or not sure if they can be bothered.”


The benefits of sustainable operating go beyond simply feeling good for doing right by the planet, they might actually drive business and save money in the long-run. Consumer trends show that sustainability is holding greater importance on people’s purchasing decisions than ever before. And with increasing numbers of people considering the environmental impact before spending, operators risk missing out on vital business. Plus, Penny and Kylie have saved a significant amount of money over time by making simple moves: no longer purchasing straws, or having paper receipts for card machines. As well as reducing waste, these are items they no longer need to spend money on. “Have that wish list of the things you want to do, and it gradually happens. As the lightbulb goes, put the LED one in – don’t change them for LEDs in one go, that’s just a waste! “Once you start doing it, apart from the fact it feels good, it can save money,” says Kylie. One recent innovation for The Bell has been the arrival of an ecoglass wash, which recycles water. Previously, everything was washed by hand, but due to the sink being too low and causing back pains, a replacement became necessary. This was seen as an opportunity to introduce more environmentally friendly measures. “We’ve never had an electric glass washer in the bar, but this is energy efficient. There is often an initial cost, but then there are savings.”


While The Bell Inn only offers a limited menu, they still try to source ingredients locally, getting most of their meat from a farm shop just 10 miles away. Similarly, they buy vegetables from the local wholesaler, which also reduces packaging, since the fresh veg is bundled into a big box. The Bell serves Two Farmers’ crisps, which are totally plastic-free. Prior to acquiring a commercial composting contract, they took the crisp packets home to compost. “I needed to see if they would actually disappear in my compost at home. They did, which I was pleasantly surprised by. We have now got a commercial composting contract for food waste,” says Kylie. They are also mindful of where they source their drinks from. A new addition to the bar is Toti, an alcohol brand which makes rum and donates money to marine welfare. They also stock Wilde Samphire gin and Tuffon Hall wines, which are sourced locally “Our biggest turnaround has been replacing our house gin (Gordon’s) and our house Smirnoff vodka with Sapling gin and vodka, which are carbon neutral in everything that they do. Although it is more expensive to buy, by putting it in as the house gin and the house vodka, we’re eliminating less sustainable options. “We were happy to swallow that cost and proudly serve something that we are very happy with,” says Kylie. Making customers aware of their efforts has also been important for The Bell, as it attracts like-minded people who want to do better for the environment. It also encourages questions from others who are curious. “By stocking Two Farmers’ crisps in their compostable packets and by putting the Who Gives a Crap toilet paper in our toilets with ‘Who Gives a Crap’ written on it, that’s actually shouting about the things that are important to us,” explains Penny. “It’s saying we do give a crap!” Kylie chimes in. Leaving our readers with some advice, the pair suggest taking a look around your pub and seeing what things, big or small, you can do today to be more sustainable. “You have to do what you can without compromising your offering, but actually you’ll find the changes don’t tend to compromise your offering as much as you’d think.” Just be sure to do your research first, and be conscious not to greenwash, they warn.

Keith Richardson, FBII - Goathland Hotel

Every BII member is unique and we love sharing their journeys through the years with our 10,000 strong network. Max Burke MBII asked Keith Richardson from the Goathland Hotel, better known as the Aidensfield Arms from popular TV drama, Heartbeat about his passion for pubs and how they have successfully run their pub for nearly 40 years. 

How did you come to be at The Goathland Hotel? Are you tenanted with Punch Pubs?
My wife Jean’s family had lived in Goathland previously and we had our Wedding Reception here in 1974.  It started with a New Years Day conversation together in 1985 which then turned into us applying to buy the Lease with Punch.

The pub has been run by your family for the past four decades - how did the pub come to be such a vital part of your family’s lives?
As my wife had previous family living here, we already knew many people and the village lifestyle.  We actually have family that ran this pub back in the early 1900's.  Our children went to the same village school that their grandfather did and moving from Mortlake, it offered a peaceful and attractive way of life.  Running The Jolly Gardeners in Mortlake was great, but we wanted a pub with rooms and the pub and hotel in Goathland offered our young family so much more.

How did your customers react during and after the Coronavirus pandemic?
Our customers were very sympathetic and when coming back many were very cautious.  However, we gained a great many repeat customers to our tourist hot spot when they saw how high we kept our cleaning standards.

During and since Covid there has been an increase in the number of people who are opting to take their holidays in the UK instead of going abroad. Having that accommodation option for customers, how have you taken advantage of this, and did you see an upturn in bookings?
Yes, we have definitely seen a reawakening as to what a UK holiday can offer and also the short escape, not pinning all their energy on 2 weeks.  We have increased our advance minimum stay to 3 nights, a great way to ckeep costs down.

Is social media important to the way you run the business?

Yes, our media take is slightly different and we use it as a village focus.  After all, the more reasons to visit the better, and it encourages people to stay for  longer.

The pub is well known for being used as the Aidensfield Arms in Heartbeat, did this positively affect footfall for the business?
Absolutely, it's brought the North Yorkshire Moors worldwide tourism.  It’s been great to welcome visitors from as far afield as Scandinavia, Canada, OZ & NZ.

The village is infamous for another reason -  Goathland station, located a stone’s throw from the hotel, was used in one of the Harry Potter films. Did this affect the number of visitors to the town and therefore the pub? 
It was a lovely extra to our popular village.  Coaches of 50 Japanese students will suddenly file past the pub to The 'Hogwarts' Station.

What are some of your key considerations now in the current climate?
Our focus currently is being aware of the little things, from each bill and what's necessary or can be negotiated.  We try to ensire each customer leaves wanting to come back again.

How do you balance the menu so it yields the highest GP? What’s your best dish for GP?
Our menus are designed with our customers in mind as such we run a small menu and serve a lot of each dish!  Our best GP has to be Ham, Eggs with chips or Sausage, Eggs with chips.

What is your menu like? Do you think it’s important to cater to different tastes and say have a vegan option?

Absolutely -  we have had a Gluten free menu for over 15 years and now have vegan options always available from 'Meatballs' to Macaroni.

Do you work with a chef to create menus or is this something you like to manage?
No - we are a Husband and Wife team through and through.  My wife is the Cook, along with a management team.

Have you been in touch with other local businesses during this time?
We have always worked closely with the Steam railway and have a great working relationship with our local suppliers.
When times are tough working closely with your local suppliers is invaluable.  We have seen so many challenges, particularly as a rural business.  fromthe cost of living crisis or running out of logs in a snowy winter.  
Heartbeat started filming in 1991,  and we were asked by Keith Richardson the  executive producer at the time if we could be used for a Pilot series of 6 episodes.  Little did we know that it would not finish until 2008 and is still repeated everyday!  Whilst it was an incredible opportunity, it created many challenges and there was no other business the same that we could draw support or expertise from.  To be honest the closest was a Disney training course!

The pub is now up for sale, how and why have you come to this decision?
We love the working in this industry, it is a great life and lifestyle but as I'm about to be 80 and my wife is 75 we would like to travel some more and visit friends and family, so are going to be retiring shortly.

Do you have any tips for the licensee(s) that takes over the pub?
Embrace the village and all that is, from Heartbeat and Harry Potter to the Steam Railway and walking the Moors. Afterall, if you are passionate about it you can sell it to others to enjoy.

Why did you decide to join the BII?
We decided to join the BII as a member a long time ago, they provide great advice that is industry specific at the touch of a button.

Why would you recommend the BII to a fellow industry professional?
We would recommend the BII to anyone in the trade, new or old because nobody walks in knowing everything and if you do, the rules soon change.

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