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Pakenham Fox, near Bury St Edmunds, wins CAMRA West Suffolk pub of the year award

PUBLISHED: 12:40 26 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 26 March 2018

The Pakenham Fox has won CAMRA west Suffolk pub of the year after being renovated and brought back to life in 2016.  Owners Be-Be Kennedy and Nick McIlwraith.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Pakenham Fox has won CAMRA west Suffolk pub of the year after being renovated and brought back to life in 2016. Owners Be-Be Kennedy and Nick McIlwraith. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A west Suffolk pub which was saved after a regular decided to buy and renovate the building has won two Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) awards.

The Pakenham Fox has won CAMRA west Suffolk pub of the year after being renovated and brought back to life in 2016.  Owners Be-Be Kennedy and Nick McIlwraith.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Pakenham Fox has won CAMRA west Suffolk pub of the year after being renovated and brought back to life in 2016. Owners Be-Be Kennedy and Nick McIlwraith. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Pakenham Fox, near Bury St Edmunds, has been named West Suffolk and Borders Pub of the Year 2018 in both the rural and overall categories by the industry organisation just seven years after it was left derelict.

The pub, based at The Street, closed its doors to customers in 2011, after years of changing tenants, leaving villagers without a community hub.

Nick McIlWraith, along with sister Sheila, then bought the pub in February 2016 and, following support from the community, was able to reopen it in August the same year.

The pub has flourished since re-opening after a full refurbishment and Mr McIlwraith, who has lived in the village for nearly 35 years, said he is delighted with the awards from CAMRA.

“It’s lovely, and a big boost for the pub,” he said. “Being a regular pub-goer, when it closed, I decided to do something about it.

“It was pretty near derelict and it took a lot of effort from a lot of different people and to get it open, including local tradespeople.

“But we’re now up and running and it’s going well.”

The pub serves a variety of real ales and food from local producers, and a kitchen garden is currently being planted in the meadow behind the building for its own vegetables.

The Fox was also awarded the West Suffolk and Borders CAMRA pub of the month in February last year.

Mr McIlwraith, 63, who formerly ran agricultural business NRM Efficacy, and has a background in plant pathology, said the move to the pub game was an eye-opener.

“I enjoy it very much. It’s completely different to what I did before and I probably underestimated how hard it was going to be.

“But I had great support from my bar manager Be-Be Kennedy-Mair (previously co-director at NRM Efficacy) chef Josh Gales, and the community and it’s worked out well.”

The pub holds regular quiz nights, pizza evenings on Friday nights, curry evenings on Saturday nights, as well as serving traditional Sunday lunches.

For more information on the Pakenham Fox, visit www.pakenhamfox.co.uk, call 01359 230194 or email hello@pakenhamfox.co.uk

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