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Owners of The Swan in Monks Eleigh celebrate one year at the helm with Campaign for Real Ale Pub of the Month award

Julie and Stephen Penney are celebrating their one year anniversary since buying The Swan pub in Monks Eleigh – and have just found out they are pub of the month awarded by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

The couple, formerly from Sudbury, says the Monks Eleigh community have been very welcoming.

Julie said: “At one point villagers thought they would lose their pub, especially as other village facilities such as the school and post office had been closed.

“We bought the pub on the understanding that the community shop would continues to operate from the old freezer store in the pub car park. The community shop is open every day and is thriving.”

Stephen still works the night shift in Delphi in Sudbury and so runs the pub with Julie – who took redundancy at Delphi – and they also have a team consisting of head chef Mark Pates, sous chef Paul Worley and waitresses Tilly Jobbins and Jess Briggs.

Running a pub was a long-held dream for Julie. She said: “I used to do bar work and always fancied running a pub. That’s where the idea spawned.

“The year has gone really quickly because we’ve been so busy.

“It’s totally 24/7, even on our day off we are thinking about the pub, and people say it;s a lifestyle rather than a job. But it’s been an amazing year and and we have a great team.”

The couple plan a pub birthday party on September 14 with a free buffet. “We’ll just put on some music, open the doors and say to people come along and celebrate with us,” added Julie.

The award from CAMRA was unexpected but the couple say visitors are often surprised at the range of beers and ales they stock, mainly from local breweries.

“For a small, rural pub we have quite a selection,” said Julie.

The pub also specialises in offering bespoke food. Everything is made from scratch so the chef can cook up dishes for any dietary requirement, including dairy intolerance, gluton-free, vegan and vegetarian.

The pub has a kareoke night coming up on October 12. “We’re hoping to find the next Ed Sheeran,” added Julie.

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