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Village pub near Grantham beats naysayers

A popular village pub is celebrating the third anniversary many said it wouldn’t.

Landlord Nick Holden and landlady Kate Ahrens took over the Geese & Fountain in Croxton Kerrial on August 1, 2015 and many told them they wouldn’t last six months.

But three years later, the pub is thriving with a raft of awards, top ratings for food and accommodation, and regular events making it a vital part of the village community.

Nick admits it has been hard work with the couple running the pub, which has B&B rooms too, from breakfast time until closing time late at night, even if it means an essential nap during the day.

“We are here from first thing at morning to last thing at night. We are open all day, every day. That’s the way we like it.”

Before taking over the pub, which had been closed some years before, the couple worked in Leicester. Nick worked in IT in the research unit of Glenfield Hospital and Kate as an intensive care nurse at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

They left the city for the good life of the Vale Of Belvoir, attracted by its reputation for producing good food such as Stilton Cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Croxton’s famous geese. Leicestershire and Lincolnshire also produce great vegetables too, which all feature on the menu.

Nick also had a family connection, with his grandparents growing up in the Vale and his great grandfather, Fred Grasse, was head gamekeeper to the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle around the time of the First World War.

Looking back at the pub’s achievements, Nick cites winning Pub of the Year from Belvoir Camra and it being a national finalist for rural craft brews, from the Society of Independent Brewers Association, which led to it staging a beer festival in May, featuring what had been awarded the country’s best beers.

The home-cooked food is highly rated on TripAdvisor, gaining an Excellence Award, and the pub has an extensive range of bottled beers in the cellar, with music a regular feature.

Nick continued: “The best part is getting the pub re-established as part of the village with our library. People still come in for beer, but others will come in during the day for a coffee and use the wifi. We also love having tourists staying and making recommendations for places for them to visit such as Belton House and Woolsthorpe Manor.”

The pub also stages regular community events, such as Christmas dinners for villagers and activities over the summer for local children every Tuesday.This Friday and Saturday, it stages its first gin nights with Spanish tapas to mark its gin range exceeding 50. It has also just started selling ‘paddles’ of third pints of beers to let people try their extensive range. Despite regular innovations, the couple are not complacent.

Kate added: “We haven’t succeeded yet. Its about creating a space. It’s the kind of pub we wanted to go and visit and that is what we have set up.”


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