Cheers for beers: Blyth inn is cock-a-hop at pulling top ale award

The Commissioners Quay Inn is raising a toast to celebrate pulling a top beer award.

The Blyth inn on Quay Road has been awarded its very first Cask Marque award in recognition of its expertise and commitment to giving customers the perfect glass of beer.

General manager of The Commissioners Quay Inn Daniel Evans said: “As beer aficionados ourselves, we’re a little obsessed about seeking out and serving the very best quality glass of beer to our customers.

“From staff training, robust cellar management and beer care to exemplary glass and bar hygiene, we take absolutely no short cuts in getting it right and take pride in serving and watching our customers enjoy a glass of proper real ale.

“It’s fantastic to get this recognition from Cask Marque which assures us – and our customers – that they are guaranteed a great pint when they step through our doors.”

Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent beer quality audits.

The Commissioners Quay Inn, which is part of award-winning north east leisure operators The Inn Collection Group, serves a wide range of hand pull ales from breweries including Black Sheep Brewery, Anarchy Brew Company, Hadrian & Border Brewery and Cullercoats Brewery Limited.

The Seaton Lane Inn to reopen on Friday April 6th

Following a tip to toe refurbishment The Seaton Lane Inn will reopen at 12 noon on Friday April 6th. 

A major overhaul of The Inn Collection Group owned, landmark Seaton inn is nearing completion, with customers shortly to experience the inn’s all new redesigned dining area, complete with signature furniture, contemporary lighting and fresh colour schemes.

An expansive orangery promising laid back dining and drinking will adjoin a new bar, offering a wider range of local, national and craft ales, speciality spirits, soft drinks and wines from across the globe.

Each of the inn’s en suite bedrooms has been renovated, too.

General manager Paul Brown said: "The inn is looking absolutely brilliant and we can't wait to unveil the all new Seaton Lane Inn to our customers. It will be a very exciting moment in the inn's history and we're looking forward to celebrating it with the community here in Seaton and beyond. 

Sean Donkin, managing director of The Inn Collection Group, said: “This is an exciting chapter for The Seaton Lane Inn and will mark a milestone in its history. 

“Customer experience is critical for us and our redesign of The Seaton Lane Inn is fundamentally about investing in our customers and providing them with an enhanced venue that embraces our eat, drink, sleep and explore model. 

“Our investment plans to update, improve and modernise The Seaton Lane Inn, while preserving the inn’s character, will ensure the pub continues to be a beacon for hospitality and a great place to dine and stay for locals, tourists and business customers in County Durham. We are looking forward to opening our doors for business once again and to show off the stunning new Seaton Lane Inn.”

Lindisfarne Inn staff rally to help stricken motorists

With accommodation already fully occupied, staff turned the restaurant of The Inn Collection Group's Lindisfarne Inn into a refuge for 50 stricken travellers marooned by the severe weather. 

Duvets and free hot drinks were handed out to travellers who had abandoned their vehicles on the A1 at Beal, Northumberland, due to the severe weather conditions. 

Chris Taylor is general manager of The Lindisfarne Inn, which is owned by The Inn Collection Group. Mr Taylor said: “We worked into the night to give shelter and warmth to stranded travellers. We extended food service, turned up the heating and handed out duvets and free hot drinks to travellers. We weren’t going to turn away into the freezing temperatures. 

“We all pulled together to help as many people as we could who were seeking refuge in atrocious conditions, as well as looking after people staying with us who have found themselves stranded by the weather. 

“I need to say what a true credit my staff have been – not just to the inn, but to the company as a whole. They have been working 18-hour long shifts back to back to help as many people as possible.”

Supervisor Lewis Scott said: “We just did what we felt was right to do. We couldn’t see people stuck. We made people as comfortable as best we could, handing out duvets. 

“The atmosphere was lovely, it felt really strange – it kind of felt like it was the end of the world. But everyone was happy and talked to each other – including the staff – there were only five of us in all day and night covering the bar, kitchen, housekeeping and maintenance, as so many people hadn’t been able to get in because of the snow. 

“We’d started work at 7.30 am and worked until about 1230. Everyone just rolled up their sleeves. The night just flew by." 

The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin said: “I am extremely proud of the goodwill of the team at The Lindisfarne Inn and their outstanding actions. They really did go above and beyond to assist stranded motorists, whose only other option would have been to spend the night in their cars in freezing conditions.

“It’s a heartwarming example of the important role pubs play in the community and how, in adverse times such as these, people come together to support each other.”

Sean Donkin named as managing director of The Inn Collection Group

Sean Donkin has been named as the new managing director of The Inn Collection Group as the North East hospitality and leisure specialist prepares for further expansion.

With an 18-year career in the hospitality sector, Sean has been promoted to managing director from his previous position as operation director for company which has a growing portfolio of eight pubs with rooms in prime locations across the North of England.

Sean joined the business as general manager of the group’s top-performance unit, The Bamburgh Castle Inn in Seahouses in 2008.

Business founder, Keith Liddell, who is moving across from CEO to serve as the award-winning group’s executive deputy chairman, said: “Sean has an outstanding track record in the market and I am delighted to see his career develop in tandem with the growth of the group.

“The Inn Collection Group has a policy of promoting talent from within, which has led to exceptionally strong staff retention rates. In Sean’s case, this policy has resulted in an individual who has unparalleled knowledge of the industry as well as the group and its ethos through his hands-on involvement with our growth at every stage.”

As well as maintaining the high quality, service and facilities for customers that mark out the group’s estate of pubs, Sean’s focus is leading the growth and expansion of The Inn Collection Group, both within and further afield from its North East heartland.

A major refurbishment of The Seaton Lane Inn near Sunderland is underway while 2018 will also see the opening of the new £4.2 million Northumberland unit, The Amble Inn in October. The recent acquisition of properties adjacent to The Bamburgh Castle Inn will introduce a further 13 bedrooms to this high-profile site.

Sean said: “The Inn Collection Group has carved out an excellent reputation becoming a trusted brand in the sector. I am delighted to be stepping up to the position of managing director as a year of exciting development lies ahead of us. 

“We are already one of the largest private provider of accommodation in the region. During 2018 we will continue to seek out new premises – including sites beyond the North East and Yorkshire - that fit with our philosophy of offering pubs with rooms accommodation and classic homemade meals at great value for money prices.”

Sean sees the group’s 250-strong workforce as a key component of the company’s vision for growth and is rolling out a new training academy for staff which will introduce a company intranet for online training and development.

Sean said: “We are proud to have established an ambitious team of customer-focused staff. Having been promoted through the ranks of the company myself, developing our people to meet their full potential and enjoy long and successful careers with us is close to my heart.”

The Inn Collection Group is a pathfinder for Britain’s Favourite Walks

If the runaway success of ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks has inspired you to dust off your walking boots, then head for an Inn Collection Group pub and enjoy some of the UK’s best walks on your doorstep.

A trailblazing nine routes close to the group’s pubs with rooms, made it into the programme’s top 100, with the North – and especially coastal walks – coming out top among voters.

Around 8,000 people voted for their favourite walks for the programme, presented by Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba, with famous faces and keen hikers profiling their own favourite paths.

The Inn Collection Group’s operations director Sean Donkin said: “It’s no surprise that people love to walk in the North. We have the best beaches, more castles than any other county in England, rugged hill country and showstopper viewpoints  – all interspersed with amazing local history and attractions.

“Our inns, which span the North of England, including Northumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire, pride themselves on welcoming in walkers. Our staff are keen hikers themselves. Myself, along with general managers from the whole group have just walked the route from Dunstanburgh to Craster – the very route which made the show’s final ten in the whole of the country.

“We welcome muddy boots, have wash down facilities, help with drying wet gear – and staff are always happy to share local knowledge of nearby routes, facilities, accessibility, public transport and what people can see and do along the way – they will even drop off and collect walkers from their routes, if they can.”

To celebrate the wealth of walks around their inns, the group has introduced Walk Inn breaks at several walking hotspots.

Including bed and breakfast, a welcome drink on arrival, dinner, a pack of 20 waterproofed O/S walks around the inn of your choice, and a packed lunch, Walk Inn start from £40 per person on top of standard room rates. 

Walk Inn breaks are available at:

The Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, Northumberland 

The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal, near Holy Island, Northumberland

The Hog’s Head Inn at Alnwick, Northumberland

The Commissioners Quay Inn at Blyth, Northumberland 

The King’s Head Inn at Newton under Roseberry, North Yorks

See walks from ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Walks – Top 100 here

Festive trading boom tops record year for Inn Collection Group

Pub operators The Inn Collection Group have revealed record Christmas trading following upbeat seasonal sales. 

The North East based leisure operator reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 7.5pc in the five weeks leading up to January 6, compared to the same period last year. 

Sean Donkin, operations director at the North East based pub group said: “We are delighted to have exceeded our seasonal sales forecasts with the strongest like-for-like sales achieved yet in the group’s 10-year history.

 “We enjoyed an extended period of festivities as a result of Christmas falling on a Monday, which enabled us to optimise the number of Christmas party events across our units, which has contributed towards a record rise in accommodation sales.” 

He added: “Bar sales grew strongly, driven by demand for premium drinks products and our Christmas menus and entertainment were well received and helped secure record covers across the period.” 

Strong festive trading topped an excellent year of trading for the operator, with the group delivering like for like sales growth of 13pc for the year as a whole.

Overall, all trading formats performed well across the group’s estate of pubs with rooms, with accommodation leading the way with a 26pc increase in sales. 

The Inn Collection Group’s estate has a current total of 202 bedrooms across its Northumberland, County Durham and Teesside units, and construction of a further 30-bedroom new build inn at Amble, Northumberland, is underway, set to open in October 2018. 

The eight-site leisure operator, which is backed by London-based Kings Park Capital, is one of the North East’s largest independent accommodation providers. 

The Hog's Head Inn teams up with the Northumberland Gazette to give a free starter or pud offer to every reader to celebrate 2018

The Northumberland Gazette has teamed up with The Hog's Head Inn to celebrate the New Year ‘inn’ style by giving a free starter or dessert to every reader so they can raise their knives, forks and spoons to mark 2018.

Led by acclaimed head chef Kelvin Gallaugher, The Hog’s Head Inn’s kitchen boasts a strong following of foodies for its delicious, homemade pub dishes and daily changing specials, while it’s user friendly facilities make it a popular choice with families, too. 

And with this offer, a trip to The Hog’s Head Inn has got even tastier by giving every reader the chance to enjoy a free starter or pudding with every adult main course purchased. 

Open daily from 7.30am with food served until 9pm, The Hog’s Head Inn’s winter menu has a wide range of crowd pleasers guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly January day. 

From comfort food classics, like steak and ale pie slow-cooked in Tyneside Blonde Ale to homemade pizzas with a range of delectable toppings, a spicy new selection of curry dishes as well as the inn’s famous steak range, The Hog’s Head Inn prides itself on having dishes to suit everyone’s tastes.

General manager Gary Turner said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Northumberland Gazette to wish readers a very happy New Year.

“After the excitement of Christmas and the New Year, January can seem a bit of a come-down. So what better pick-you-up could there be than a mouth watering meal out, with a freebie starter or pudding literally being the icing on the cake!”

To claim you free starter or pudding voucher, simply buy a copy of the Northumberland Gazette (on January 4th) or download and print your Free Starter or Pudding Voucher and handover when you order. A voucher is valid for every adult main course meal, from Monday to Thursday until February 8th.

The Lindisfarne Inn pairs up with The Berwick Advertiser to give readers a free starter or pudding to celebrate the New Year

The Lindisfarne Inn is inviting diners to raise a knife, fork and spoon to 2018 with a scrumptious celebratory offer for readers of The Berwick Advertiser of a free starter or dessert.

The Berwick Advertiser is celebrating the New Year ‘Inn’ style by pairing up with award-winning The Lindisfarne Inn by offering readers a free starter or dessert with every adult main course purchased.

Heading the inn’s acclaimed kitchen team is head chef Mark Bocking who serves up a delicious range of homemade pub dishes with daily changing specials where local game and seafood makes a regular appearance.

And with the voucher below, a trip to The Lindisfarne Inn – just off the A1 near Holy Island, has just got even tastier by giving every reader the chance to get their teeth into a free starter or pudding.

Open daily from 7.30am with food served until 9pm, The Lindisfarne Inn’s winter menu has a wide range of crowd pleasers guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly January day. 

From comfort food classics, like Northumbrian Game Pudding and haggis, neeps and tatties, to homemade pizzas with a range of delectable toppings and a spicy new selection of curry dishes The Lindisfarne Inn’s versatile menu attracts a loyal band of followers.

General manager Chris Taylor said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with the Berwick Advertiser to wish readers a very happy New Year.

“January is seen by many as being the bleakest month of the year. What could be more uplifting than a delicious homemade meal out with family or friends, with the added bonus of a free course on us? It’s just the thing to banish any January blues you may be feeling.”

To claim you free starter or pudding voucher, simply buy your copy of The Beriwck Advertiser, published on January 4th,  or download and print from and handover when you order. A voucher is valid for every adult main course meal, from Monday to Thursday until February 8th