The publican of an historic Essex pub has been honoured with a prestigious award to celebrate more than 30 years’ service at the helm of the much-loved local. 64-year-old Mary Snell took over The New Inn in Roydon with her former husband in the early 1990s intending to stay for six months, but she loved it so much she has never left.
The award from The New Inn’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, recognises Mary’s contribution to the pub and the community throughout the last three decades. Over the years, Mary has converted The New Inn from a little-used rundown local into a focal point of village life, as well as a destination country pub for those from further afield.
Parts of the Grade II-listed pub date back to the mid-sixteenth century, and Mary has kept its traditional feel. Features such as old beams and an open fire have pride of place, and horse brasses and pictures of The New Inn through the ages adorn the walls. The food and drink follow suit. The New Inn is known for its hearty British pub grub. Steak pie – cooked to Mary’s secret recipe – and Sunday roasts are particular customer favourites. The pub has a reputation for serving the perfect pint, too, winning it Cask Marque accreditation and a place in The Good Beer Guide for its cask ales.
Under Mary’s stewardship, The New Inn has become a hub of the community. Local groups and good causes hold their meetings in the pub’s back room, which also provides space for villagers’ celebrations and family gatherings. Mary runs a host of activities to bring residents together. Events range from a weekly £7 two-course lunch and social for senior citizens to an annual leavers’ party for pupils of Roydon Primary School. In addition, there are regular quizzes, musical entertainment and beer festivals, as well as fundraisers that have donated thousands of pounds to charity.
64-year-old Mary has no intention of “calling time” yet. Says Mary: “I’m still loving it. Every day is different, you never know what’s going to happen; it keeps me young. Roydon is such a friendly village. I feel very fortunate to have a pub here.”
Continues Mary, “Back in the 1990s, Roydon had four pubs but now there are only two. A village without a pub is very sad. A good local is more important than ever when times are tough, as they are now. People can meet up and share their problems or enjoy a much-needed chat and laugh. Either way, they leave feeling better. I’m determined to keep The New Inn going for future generations to enjoy. I’m lucky to have a wonderful team and my partner Paul Watson backing me.”
Comments Andrew Smurthwaite, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager: “Mary is a fantastic licensee. Thanks to her, The New Inn is the archetypal great British pub and an integral part of Roydon life. It has a wonderful atmosphere, and there’s always a warm welcome and excellent food and drink. Mary works tirelessly to keep The New Inn thriving. It’s a great honour to present her with this well-deserved award.”