A VILLAGE pub has been named the best in the south east.

The Red Lion at Northmoor, near Witney, has been announced as the regional winner in the Countryside Alliance Awards.

The annual awards celebrate British food and farming, with more than 18,000 nominations recorded this year.

The Red Lion is a community-owned pub, run by tenant couple Ian and Lisa Neale.

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Mrs Neale said: “We are delighted to be announced as regional finalists in the Countryside Alliance Awards.

“It is such an honour to be recognised for all the hard work that we do.

“These awards mean so much to us as it is such a prestigious award to win and they are driven by nominations from the public.

“We cannot wait for the grand final to see if we take the national title.”

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Witney MP Robert Courts added: “I am absolutely delighted that the Red Lion in Northmoor has won this award.

“Ian and Lisa have done a truly incredible job, with the support of the local community, to transform this pub into the roaring success it is today.

“The pub is full of charm and character, with extraordinary food, as I know from my visits there.

“Very many congratulations to everyone at the pub for this well-deserved recognition.”

The categories for this year’s awards include best butcher, best pub and best village shop.

The Red Lion scooped the regional best pub award, alongside The Fox at Peasemore in Newbury.

Notes from the deciding judge described the Red Lion as being ‘a real gem providing a warm welcome, well-kept beer and outstanding food’.

The notes added: “The dedicated team are making it happen and swimming strongly against the tide that is closing so many pubs these days.”