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Pub is listed ‘within top 10% worldwide’ on Tripadvisor

PUBLISHED: 16:39 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:47 24 September 2020

The Fox and Hounds in Thurston is West Suffolk CAMRA Pub of the Month and has also scooped a Tripadvisor Travellers' Choice award Picture: PAUL COOPER

The Fox and Hounds in Thurston is West Suffolk CAMRA Pub of the Month and has also scooped a Tripadvisor Travellers' Choice award Picture: PAUL COOPER

PAUL COOPER

A landlord has described it as “humbling” for his village pub to be rated as one of the best out there according to customers.

The Fox and Hounds pub in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, is celebrating after receiving a 2020 Travellers’ Choice award from travel platform Tripadvisor that places it within the “top 10% of restaurants worldwide”.

And this isn’t the only accolade the pub has just won: it has scooped a West Suffolk & Borders CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Pub of the Month award for September.

Andy Bendall and his wife Lucy took over the pub in April last year from long-standing landlord and landlady Bernie and Mandy Ruffles, who themselves had a string of awards under their belts.

MORE: ‘It’s been a blast’ – Pub to close 17 months after major revamp

Mr Bendall, who ran a plumbing business before entering the pub trade, said the Tripadvisor ratings tended to come from new faces, rather than those who were there every week, adding: “This is their first impression of the place. It’s really humbling. It’s from the public.”

He thanked new customers for their “wonderful” reviews and their regulars who “make the pub what it is, and that creates the atmosphere for those who have never been here before”. He also wanted to thank their “amazing” staff.

Tripadvisor gives a Travellers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.

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The Fox and Hounds currently has 4.5 out of five from 248 reviews.

And the ‘Pub of the Month’ title by the local CAMRA branch recognises the work Mr and Mrs Bendall have put in to refurbish the pub during lockdown and adjust to the ‘new normal’ with a Covid-secure environment.

Chris Bailey, CAMRA branch chairman, said: “It is pleasing to see a village local reinvent itself and maintain all day trading in very difficult circumstances. Andy and Lucy have invested heavily to provide a safe environment for their customers. They deserve our recognition for doing so.”

CAMRA said the couple had fully refurbished their pub whilst forcibly closed, doubled their outside undercover seating area and introduced a robust one-way system to ensure social distancing and a Covid-secure environment. They are now open again all day, every day, offering a full food and drink service including six, constantly changing real ales.

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Mr Bendall, 40, a father-of-three who grew up in Thurston, added: “We took over the reins here 18 months ago and could not have anticipated the effects of coronavirus. We have worked tirelessly to overcome the hurdles created by the pandemic and feel justifiably pleased we have succeeded.

“Recently we’ve been recognised for our hospitality and food service and this latest recognition from local drinkers and CAMRA members strengthens that.

“Since the lockdown we’ve seen a change in our customer base; many now travel from Bury St Edmunds and further afield, using our excellent public transport links, and tell us they do so as the environment we have created here makes them feel safe and Covid secure.”

CAMRA’s Pub of the Month September award is its first since lockdown restrictions were eased.


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