Husband-and-wife team, Keith and Diane Marsden from the Prince of Wales pub in Birmingham, have been named the BII 2015 Licensees of the Year.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Licensee of the Year Award, sponsored by BT Sport, recognises the country's top-performing licensee with a passion for the trade.
It is second time lucky for this year's winners, who made it to the semi-finals in 2014. With Keith's background in advertising and Diane's former tour guide experience, the couple worked together to create a unique atmosphere at the traditional wet-led pub in the heart of Moseley village, which is known for its large beer garden that boasts a cocktail bar alongside cigar and wine sheds.
The couple, who have worked in the industry for 10 years, have run the Spirit Lease pub since 2007 and have a clear plan and strategy they have passed on to every team member.
Keith said of winning: "This is the biggest accolade you can get, and receiving recognition from your peers to say that you are at the top of your game is a bonus."
"Winning the Licensee of the Year Award really is the icing on the cake, it means so much to us and our staff and we can't wait to get the team together to share our success with them," added Diane.
Speaking about the winners, Sue Allen, commercial and membership director of the BII, said: "There was an excellent standard of finalists this year, but Keith and Diane really went the extra mile. With innovative ideas, together with their sheer passion for our industry and their huge focus on their people, the couple really stood out from the crowd."
The announcement was made at the BII Summer Event and Annual Lunch, which took place at the Artillery Garden of the Honourable Artillery Company on 2 June.
Speaking at the event, Stephen Glancey, chief executive officer of the C&C Group, the main sponsor of the event, also announced that the BII is bringing back the National Innkeeping Training Awards (the NITAs) this autumn. To mark this, Glancey presented an inaugural NITA award, the Franca Knowles Live your Life Award, to Chesca Knowles, daughter of the late Franca Knowles, who sadly passed away in November 2014.
Together with her husband Keith, Franca championed training and people development at Beds & Bars and was the winner of a number of NITA awards. Awarded an MBE in 2008 for her services to skills training, Franca was a huge believer in training innovation and sharing best practice, and her famous words "Live your life" have named this inaugural trophy.
"We passionately believe that the licensed trade is a people business and that well-trained people will generate a stronger future for it. The BII is playing an exceptionally strong role in helping achieve this," added Glancey.
Other awards presented on the day were:
- Emily Whewall, winner of the SABMiller Scholars Programme Award, sponsored by SAB Miller
- Mark Thornhill, winner of the Jeremy Allen Award, sponsored by Poppleston Allen
- Rod Jones, winner of the Beer Sommelier of the Year Award, sponsored by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling
- Nigel and Sue Anstead, winners of the Fundraiser of the Year, sponsored by PubAid
- Neringa Markeviciute, Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Fuller, Smith & Turner