A PUB boss who returned to Whitchurch from the Caribbean during the Covid lockdown is "pleased as Punch" after his pub was named among the best in a national chain.

Andrew Harding and his business partner Des McClements have received the nod for best newcomers from Punch Taverns for their management of the Red Cow, in Pepper Street.

Whitchurch-born Andrew says the nomination is extra-special because of the work and care shown by the business in making the pub one they both care for deeply.

He said: “We have been nominated for the best newcomer award from Punch Taverns, which is our brewery.

“We took it over about two years ago and I think it’s been part of Punch Taverns for at least the last five years.


“They took over it before us and spent a lot of money on it for a super refurbishment because it used to be a proper ‘spit and sawdust’ pub before they did.

“Punch has spent a lot of money to turn it around and make it a really cosy, lovely pub – they’ve shown it a lot of care.

“We’ve been given this nomination and it’s really nice.”

The return to Whitchurch for Andrew was accelerated by the global pandemic in 2020 after his work for a hotel in the Caribbean dried up.

He said that it was his intention to return home but that he did not intend to start running a pub, though he is delighted he has as it has led to the nomination.

He said: “I don’t have a background in pubs but I do have a long experience in hospitality.

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“Before Covid-19, I worked in the Caribbean, in food and beverages, for an award-winning hotel in St Lucia, where I managed all of that for them.

“I also used to work in Barbados and I started my career out at the Grosvenor in Chester.

"I’m from Whitchurch and Covid-19 killed my work in the Caribbean so being 58 – 59 in the coming months – I was planning to come home anyway.

“I’m over the moon to be nominated and I am as proud as can be.

“We’d always said we’d never run a pub but it’s been great to be nominated.

“I didn’t expect it at all – it shows what can be done.”