Nunsfield House Social Club, in Derby, in running for national award
THEY took over the venue five years ago, stocked it with plenty of real ale, tripled its takings and won a raft of awards.
Now the efforts of Paul Walton and Denise Oakley have put Nunsfield House Social Club one step away from being named the best club in the country.
The Alvaston community centre is among four venues short-listed for the 2013 Campaign for Real Ale national club of the year award.
The winner – chosen by a panel of judges for showing the greatest commitment to promoting real ale – will be announced next March.
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Paul and his partner Denise, who took over the running of the Boulton Lane club in 2007, found out it was a finalist for the national award while at magazine Club Mirror's 2012 awards.
The couple were invited to the Palace Hotel, in Manchester, earlier this month for the ceremony – which acknowledges the "pivotal role" clubs play in the community – where they won the national stewards of the year award.
It was a title they also picked up at the awards last year. Paul, 51, said: "We were delighted to win it for a second year in a row – last year, we won it jointly with Jonathan Smales, from Spondon Conservative Club, so it felt like we were really putting Derby on the map.
"At the event, it was announced we had won what's called the super round award, putting us in line for the national club of the year award – it was a bit of a surprise.
"We had to be nudged by the table next to us because we didn't realise they were talking about us – but we're so proud of what we've won, it's a real team effort."
Earlier this year, the Derby Telegraph reported how the Derby branch of CAMRA had crowned Nunsfield the city's club of the year, while the organisation's national directors declared it Derbyshire's best.
It was the second year running the club had picked up these titles.
As 2012 CAMRA East Midlands regional club of the year, the club stocks ales from Shardlow Brewery, Dancing Duck, Derby Brewing Company, Blue Monkey and Falstaff.
The club is in the running for the national title against Cheltenham Motor Club, Darlington Snooker Club and Leyton Orient Football Supporters' Club, in London.
Paul said: "I was close to tears at the awards in Manchester because this is a way of life for me, not a job.
"But, although I'm lucky enough to be picking up the wards, I know it's because of the team we have and the support of our customers that we are getting them."