by John Blow
A landlady is celebrating after the pub she runs won an award from CAMRA.
Gina Howard, 49, manager of The Fleece, on Town Street, Farsley, was handed a certificate for Most Improved Pub in Leeds by John Rowe, the chairman of Leeds’ branch of The Campaign for Real Ale, on Friday.
After leaving The Owl in Rodley, which won the same award, as well as the Community Pub Award under her watch, mother-of-four Gina took over The Fleece in August last year – and says it has gone from strength-to-strength. The award was judged in autumn.
She said: “It’s nice to know you’re not a one-trick-pony. When we went into The Owl, it was the exact same scenario as when we came to The Fleece – it was very unloved, very run down. No real ales on, no community spirit.
“It’s nice to see something come from nothing to blossom and to be in the heart of Farsley’s community is lovely too,” she added.
CAMRA is an independent organisation that promotes quality ale, community pubs and consumer rights, and Gina puts her success at The Fleece – the oldest original Joshua Tetley pub – partly down to using Yorkshire micro-breweries and a ‘try before you buy’ sales pitch.
“It’s been so well received – the beers that we have on and how they’re kept and taste – that’s why a lot of people nominated us.
“We try rotating them and get a huge range of beers, from golden to milds to darks. We have Saltaire Blonde, which is lovely, and Leeds Pale – which I can’t sell enough of.”
Gina, who does not drink beer herself, first got into the pub industry to help pay for her eldest son’s university fees, becoming a barmaid on top of her regular banking job.
She said: “It allows me to do my hobby, which is talk! It’s lovely, I’m a real believer in community spirit – always have been.
“I love chatting to people, I like to see people enjoying themselves. For me this is a two-way street – if you treat people right, they’ll treat you right,” she added.