A POPULAR Ulverston watering hole has been crowned winner of an annual pub of the year award.

Old Friends, on Soutergate, has won the Furness Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) pub of the year award for the second time running.

Old Friends has been run husband and wife Graham and Andrea Wilson for seven years when they took it over from the brewery.

Graham, 48, said: “Lockdown was challenging. We had to make a lot of changes since then like seating arrangements - we’ve spaced them out more so people feel more comfortable.

“Last April when we came out of lockdown we took advantage of our beer garden and transformed that which has been getting us a lot of visitors.

“We are slowly starting to see a change with people’s habits. Most of our regulars have come back but some haven’t and they’ve changed the frequency they come in or at different times bur we’ve also gained different customers because they found our beer garden.

“It’s nice to see these changes being recognised as well as our recognition in the community. During lockdown we raised £700 for St Mary’s Hospice and we donated some beer - we always like to do our bit for the community.”

Graham is delighted he can now go through to the regional awards due to not being able to last year because of covid.

He said: “It’s great. Last time there was no regional awards so hopefully there is this year and we can succeed there too.

“It’s nice to see that we’ve been recognises. Jack Summers-Glass, chairman of Furness CAMRA, said some really lovely things about how the things we’ve done for the community as well as still looking after the pub that there is no worthier winner than us.

“A lot of the CAMRA members come into the pub because we have our six real ales and we brew our own on-site so they like to use us, we really appreciate it.

“All our staff have been fantastic and helpful since lockdown and it is the whole team that makes the pub what it is.”