A PUB which was only taken over by the current landlord just over a year ago has been crowned The Bury Times Pub of the Year.

The Victoria Hotel in Hall Street in Walshaw, Bury, was voted the winner by diners and drinkers in a hotly contested competition for the prestigious accolade.

Dave Higgins and fiancee Sue Brittain were delighted with the award and are now proud to display the accompanying banner over the entrance.

When the couple took over the pub it was languishing empty, its reputation in tatters. Since re-opening, they have transformed the pub’s fortunes by offering a warm welcome, friendly atmosphere, good home-made food and top-class beer. Regulars, passers-by and visitors from further afield have since spread the word about the country-style pub, which is now classed the best in Bury by its clients.

“We are pretty chuffed, it could be a big boost to business,” said Dave, who prior to running the Victoria Hotel was the bar manager at Bury Football Club and became a publican with the support of Enterprise Inns.

Sue, who said she is “very happy” with the award, has a background in the food industry. She now manages the kitchen at the pub, conjuring up fine food including her best-selling cheese and onion pie, six vegetarian options, and daily changing specials including two home-made soups. Sue said she only uses fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers including a fish monger and butcher on Bury Market and another butcher in Tottington.

Dave is proud of his selection of cask ales, which features 30 varieties, attracting real ale fans from far and wide.

The couple is ably assisted by manager Kelvyn Hall, who is “invaluable” according to Dave, as well as young all-rounder Samantha Rothwell who is an apprentice in professional cookery.

“It’s hard work, but we are enjoying it — you get used to having no sleep and no social life,” said Dave.

The Victoria Hotel holds popular free quiz nights with cash prizes on Wednesday evenings. Dave and Sue emphasise theirs is a family-friendly pub, with an informal and relaxed atmosphere, a children’s menu and special “wine and dine” deals on offer. Food is served from noon to 8pm, Wednesday to Sunday.