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‘More than just a pub’ - why Green Dragon is South Norfolk’s best

Landlord Justin Harvey at the Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: STEVE ADAMS

Landlord Justin Harvey at the Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: STEVE ADAMS

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

The Green Dragon in Wymondham has once again won the South Norfolk Community Pub of the Year award.

The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Like a fine wine that improves with age, The Green Dragon in Wymondham is the pub that just keeps getting better and better.

After winning countless awards for its homely atmosphere, social calendar of events and charity fundraising, the historic Church Street venue has once again been named as South Norfolk Council’s Community Pub of the Year.

The medieval watering hole is no stranger to success, having already won the prestigious accolade twice and triumphing in the Tiffey Valley category for four years running.

It has also been named Camra’s best rural pub in the county several times and consistently achieves top TripAdvisor reviews.

The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

It was even once one of the Netherlands Board of Tourism’s 10 best reasons to visit Britain.

MORE: ‘It was a pub out of puff but the magic is now restored’ - guide to the Green Dragon in Wymondham

But few pubs manage such a succession of accolades - so just what makes this pub so special?

Friendly atmosphere and great food

Beers on tap at The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY Beers on tap at The Green Dragon in Wymondham. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

At a ceremony at the Burston Crown on Monday, October 9, judges said they were impressed with the town centre pub’s hearty food, local ales and friendly service.

Manager Moya Topsom said the Green Dragon was “like a second home to people”, adding: “We have customers who we get to know.

“When people come in, we always try to remember their names and things they like.

“For example, certain customers like certain glasses. They may be silly things but we try to remember.”

The Green Dragon at Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Green Dragon at Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ms Topsom believes the history of the venue, which dates back to the 14th century, also draws people in - but with the pub getting steadily busier since landlord Justin Harvey took over eight years ago, there is clearly more that makes the Green Dragon stand out from the crowd.

Going the extra mile

According to judges, it is the pub’s charity work and community involvement that has really set it apart from the competition.

The pub has raised more than £11,000 for the charity Star Throwers since 2009 and has worked closely with Appleseed Care Farm, raising more than £500 and donating tools and gardening equipment.

“We think it’s more than just a pub here,” said Ms Topsom.

“We raise lots of money for charity and we always try and do things for the community. We try and do everything we can for people.”

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Recently it helped an aspiring young athlete compete in wheelchair football by raising £700 towards her chair.

It also responds to what punters want - for example, it began a local running and cycling club, runs quizzes for Nelson’s Journey, hosts a ukulele club, holds comedy nights and gets involved in community events where it can.

“We’re a family here, and all of our customers are like a family,” Ms Topsom explained.

“We will always try and make people welcome. We’re really going out of our way to help people.

“Pubs are so important. People need to remember that when they’re gone, they’re gone. They are the centre of the community and we just try and do as much as we can and get as many different people in as we can.”

South Norfolk Council’s deputy leader Michael Edney said: “The Green Dragon just keeps getting better.

“They are passionate about putting the pub at the heart of the community and they keep coming up with new and innovative ways of getting the community involved.”

Mr Harvey added: “It’s fantastic to win and we’re so grateful to all our customers who voted for us.”

Other winners in the South Norfolk Council Community Pub of the Year Awards were the Wortwell Bell, which won the population under 550 category, the Burston Crown, which won the prize for a population between 551 and 1,100, and Netherton House in Long Stratton, which triumphed in the 1,101 to 5,500 category.

Terry Stork, from Pub is the Hub, who helped judge the competition, said: “All the winning pubs are making a big contribution to their communities, so we had a tough job picking a winner.

“It’s a great competition and no other local authority is doing anything like it.”

Need to know

■ Opening hours (for non-residents): Monday to Thursday 12noon to 11pm, Friday and Saturday 12noon to midnight, Sunday 12noon to 10.30pm.

Food: Leesa Arrowsmith moved across to The Green Dragon with Justin seven years ago, and she’s been cooking up a storm in its kitchens ever since. Expect pub grub classics with an extra touch of class, and some special dishes that go way beyond.

■ Popular dishes include the build-your-own ‘Dragon Burger’ to beer battered fish’n’chips. That beer batter has also inspired a delightful tempura halloumi and the menu – for mains and bar snacks - is constantly updated with local seasonal extras to tickle any tastebud.

Six of the best with Justin Harvey, Landlord, The Green Dragon

1. When’s the best time to visit your pub?

Anytime is great!

2. What’s the best memory you have of your pub?

Getting that award from the Netherlands for being one of the top destinations in the UK.

3. What’s the best drink you serve?

Any ale is delicious here.

4. What’s the best dish on the menu?

Today it’s the plaice – it’s delicious with the new potatoes and salad.

5. What’s the best hangover cure known to Man?

One of our Sunday roasts without a doubt – and maybe a pint for breakfast!

6. And finally, what’s the best pub in Norfolk (apart from yours)?

I’m going to say three. The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, The Beehive on Leopold Road and The Plasterers Arms.

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