'We're in shock' - Norfolk pub owners shortlisted for top national award
PUBLISHED: 15:55 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 14 May 2019
The owners of an award-winning Norfolk pub have said they are "shocked" and "absolutely thrilled" to have made it to the finals of a national competition.
The Fox at Lyng, winner of the EDP's Best Pub in 2016, has reached the final stages of the British Institute of Innkeeping's (BII) Licensee of the Year awards after entering the prestigious contest for the first time this year.
Owners Victoria and Gavin Hunt said they and their staff were "absolutely thrilled to have made it to the final six and particularly pleased to be the only pub licensees in Norfolk to have reached the finals".
They added: "We have a fantastic team and are incredibly grateful for their hard work and the support from our customers."
Mrs Hunt, 45, added: "I'm sure everyone says this but we're actually genuinely in shock.
"We did not expect to make it to the final - it's massive for us.
"To get this far is incredible."
Mrs Hunt, who has run The Fox for the past five years with her husband Gavin Hunt, 42, added: "We found out yesterday (May 13).
"Last month we had the phone call to say we'd made it to the semi-final and then had to go through another round of judging.
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"We had a full kitchen and cellar inspection and interview."
The couple, who have also run The Lodge in North Tuddenham for the past 12 years, were visited by an BII inspector as well as chef Ashley McCarthy, from Channel 4's Extreme Chocolate Makers.
Mrs Hunt said she felt the secrets of the pub's success lay in their focus on embracing changes.
"Pubs have changed - they're not the male-oriented drinking holes they used to be," she said.
"We have streetfood Mondays, and people pop in for a coffee.
"The next thing we that we would like to do at The Lodge and The Fox is get some really nice children's equipment to make them really safe play areas."
The 2019 winner will be announced from among other five finalists from around the UK, at the BII's summer event at the HAC Gardens, on Tuesday, June 4, after facing three panels of industry expert judges on Monday, June 3.
BII chief executive Mike Clist said: "We consistently see an extremely high standard of entrants and 2019 has been no exception.
"The talent and commitment of exceptional licensees needs to be recognised and rewarded.
"I wish our fantastic finalists well in the final stage of the competition."