A heritage village Band Club has scooped a glittering accolade from the country’s real ale watchdog.
The legendary Dobcross Band and Social Club has won this year’s Campaign for Real Ale distinguished Club of the Year award.
They beat off stiff opposition from a host of clubs across the region to claim the award from CAMRA’s branch which covers Rochdale, Oldham and Bury.
The award is based on the quality of the beers on offer, the welcoming atmosphere of the club and the professionalism of the staff.
There are 32 clubs selling real ale in the local CAMRA branch and 20 were considered, but CAMRA members had the final vote, choosing their favourite from the four shortlisted finalists and the Band Club swept the board.
What struck the judges immediately about the Dobcross Club was the warm and genuine welcome and hospitality they received from John Holden, the club’s steward of 34 years.
The judges said: “John’s experience and knowledge of real ale was unsurpassed. The quality of the beer equalled the welcome and was of the highest standard.
“So much so that the Club readily topped the other three finalists for quality and choice.”
Peter Alexander, Chairman of CAMRA Rochdale, Oldham and Bury said: “Dobcross Band Club has a fantastic choice of quality real ale and a dedicated steward who ensures the beer is always in tip top condition.
“Clubs play an important but understated part of our community. Not enough of them sell real ale, but Dobcross Band Club shows just how well it can be done and it should be an inspiration to others.
“Our judges were very impressed and I look forward to visiting the club to present this well-deserved award.”
Terry Lawless, the Band Club’s president, commented: “This award is testament to the many years of hard work and dedication from our steward John Holden and more recently his assistant Cameron Mason.
“It also shows how far the Club has come in the short time that it has been free of brewery tie.
“In recent years a lot of work has gone into turning around the fortunes of the Club and the recognition of CAMRA, in the shape of this award, shows we are moving in the right direction.
“With an ever-changing selection of top quality beers and wines, the Club offers real value for money, and if you choose to become a member, prices are even lower.”
Terry added: “The Band Club really is at the heart of the Dobcross community and the people of both Dobcross and Saddleworth should be proud to have such an iconic asset.”
Unassuming John, 62, added: “I’m really thrilled we’ve been recognised for the award. I spend a lot of time ensuring our cask ale is in top condition — I’m delighted it’s paid off.”