Published: 17:38, 09 April 2021
| Updated: 11:38, 16 April 2021
A pub in West Kingsdown has gained national recognition for its efforts supporting the vulnerable and entertaining the young during the pandemic.
The Portobello Inn off the A20, near Sevenoaks, is one of just 10 pubs across the country to reach the finals of the Community Pub Hero Awards.
The event is organised by charity PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and aims to recognise the community work done by pubs since the first lockdown last year.
In March 2020 the team at the Portobello Inn grew concerned about the possible impact panic buying and price gauging might have on the local elderly and vulnerable.
Licensees Charmain and Steven Powell decided to make use of stock they had in the kitchen and put a message out offering homemade lasagne, carrying out 18 deliveries in the village.
The following week, the order increased to 70 meals and as word spread, they appealed for further donations and food ingredients.
Before long they were delivering two hot meals a day, two or three times a week, to 100 people.
This was later extended to delivering food to support NHS workers at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford.
Hearing about its efforts, the local COOK branch in Sevenoaks offered to help and this partnership saw the number of meals increase to 170.
Last month the pub was listed as being in contention to receive a Community Pub Hero Award.
All finalists were deemed to have gone "above and beyond" to support their communities, despite facing uncertain futures themselves.
Reacting to the announcement, Landlady Charmain said: "We couldn’t be prouder, it was our absolute pleasure feeding our village and helped us to keep going during a really difficult time.
"The help and support of our locals really brought our community together."
It is the third year for the competition, which was reshaped this year having formerly been known as Charity Pub of the Year.
But it was renamed to focus more on community support rather than traditional charity fundraising.
Across the UK their were hundreds of entries, the majority nominated by their local MP, which were judged by a panel of industry experts.
The Portabello Inn continues to support villagers in a number of ways and most recently arranged an Easter egg hunt for children in the local Church Wood.
Every tree, log and woodland nook was filled with sweets, key rings, small gifts and plastic eggs for the children.
Each egg contained a note to take back and collect a different prize back at the pub. They also made Easter chocolate cakes to hand out to people in the village.
Charmain said: "We would usually hold an Easter egg hunt here so it only felt right that we organise one for the kids in the village.
"We had just over 100 Easter eggs donated by local residents and every single one was found and collected from us."
West Kingsdown resident Laura Gale, whose two sons took part in the festive find, was full of praise for the pub.
"It was amazingly organised as always and Steve and Charmain yet again pulled out all the stops to keep everyone in the village smiling," the mum-of-two said.
"They continue to be the biggest credit to our community here and go above and beyond for people."
The pub is now looking forward to welcoming back punters on Monday when outdoor table service can resume.
PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan thanked the Portobello Inn for their hard work.
“Our heartfelt congratulations go to the Portobello Inn," he said.
"Landlords and landladies and their teams have offered invaluable support for communities during the pandemic, whether offering vital supplies for residents, cooking hot meals for the elderly or countering social isolation through online quizzes or chats."
The overall community pub hero will be announced later this spring.