WHEN I rang the landlord of The London Tavern in Poulner Phil Hoyle on Wednesday to tell him he had won Pub of the Week, he was anxiously awaiting Boris Johnson's coronavirus announcement planned for 5pm.

Like most people in the hospitality industry, Phil has had a tough time over the course of the pandemic, first with lockdown followed swiftly by the changing regulations.

"I am lucky," said Phil, who is landlord along with his fiancé Sarah Williams.

"We are a food-based pub in the heart of a thriving community and we will get through it."

However, with a doctor for a sister, who worked at The Nightingale Hospital in Liverpool, Phil is avidly aware of the importance of upholding rules to keep people safe.

And during lockdown, supporting NHS spurred him on to cook free roast dinners to NHS staff and launch a delivery and take-away service for his customer's.

"Having a doctor for a sister means I know how important it is to adhere to government guidelines, which can be tough as many people believe they are nonsense.

"We have perspex at the bar, we wear masks and make sure people respect the six people rule and distance. We have halved our capacity and created more outside space and placed a marquee in the car park to give people safe space for eating and drinking.

"It has been tough but I think we all know the importance of observing the rules, although sometimes I think I have gone from landlord to headmaster!"

Phil and Sarah took over the London Tavern, a traditional and pretty pub close to the New Forest in Poulner, a little over two years ago.

And since then, the couple have secured a very long and very secure following.

"When people come here for the first time, they come again, and again. We have an excellent head chef Dan Robinson who cooks good quality, delicious food at affordable prices. We want people to be able to call in for something to eat."

Sunday roasts are a huge hit on the menu of The London Tavern but this pub is full of good cheer every day of the week, with people tucking into traditional favourites and relishing its warm welcome and ambient atmosphere.