A PUB landlord has praised the efforts of staff and loyal customers after retaining a CAMRA award.

The Turks Head, on Cooper Street, St Helens, has once again been crowned St Helens and Districts Pub of the Year by the Campaign for Real Ale.

The Turks had won the gong in 2020 but when COVID hit, it wasn't able to go through to the regional and national awards as judging had to stop.

However, the CAMRA committee, after assessing the pub, decided to carry over the award for 2021 to give the boozer another crack at the regionals.

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"The Turks Head, its roots are with cask ales," said landlord Daryl Arrowsmith, who runs the pub with landlady Deborah Wilson.

"We've got 14 cask ales on and a good 15 real ciders going on every day of the week.

"It's like a beer festival every day of the week when you come in, so we've always had a close relationship with CAMRA and always been involved with the CAMRA scene, that is where the Turks head started, even with all the changes, it's always been a big real ale pub.

The Turks also retained its title of Cider Pub of the Year.

The Turks Head on Cooper Street

The Turks Head on Cooper Street

Daryl and Deborah also thanked their staff for their ability to keep the pub running through all the ever-changing restrictions throughout the Covid period.

"It has been challenging, but I think another reason we've achieved this award is because, while a lot of pubs might took the grant money and shut down, we kept in touch with people," added Daryl.

"When we initially had to shut and there was no option to trade we set up a delivery range and started delivering beer out with food and that was great in that it kept us in touch with our customers. It's all about keeping your community together.

"Whenever Boris changed the rules and we had a new set of restrictions we adapted and we made it work, and we were quite at keeping the pub rolling at a time which was very challenging and a lot of pubs had just decided to shut the doors and not even attempt it.

"When we could trade, even when we had to essentially become a restaurant where you had to eat when you came in, there was a lot of overcoming and adapting and just making it work."

Daryl, who also runs the neighbouring Cowley Vaults pub on Cooper Street, added: "It's not just me and Deborah who have made this work, we have got a fantastic team who have pulled together through the pandemic and in quite a stressful time for them they've all worked really hard to make it work and achieve what we have achieved.

"It's not just the front of house but the chefs as well. The pressure on the chefs was immense to keep this rolling because of the sheer amount of extra food they were having to prepare to make it work, both the kitchen and the front of house did a fantastic job of keeping this going and getting through it.

"It was a bit of a challenging one but we haven't let Covid drag us down and we've also got our music venue up and running again on a Saturday night."

Landlord Daryl Arrowsmith

Landlord Daryl Arrowsmith

The pubs have future plans in the pipeline which include making the land between them into a big beer garden.

It is also intended to create an 'add-on' at the side of the Cowley Vaults premises to be run as a coffee shop.

Deborah added: "We'd like to thank the regulars, it's a community pub and we've managed to keep that and that's through their support, we've had some really difficult rules that we've had to put in place."

Daryl said: "I'd like to thank our staff for their work which has got us to this accolade and also a thank you to the loyalty of our customers over the Covid period, making sure it comes through the other side."