Leamington Spa’s 'longest-serving' landlady Josie James of the Woodland Tavern on Regent Street has received a prestigious long-service award in recognition of her 20th anniversary at the pub.
The award from the Woodland Tavern’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, marks the contribution Josie has made to the community over two decades, which this year included raising £900 for Myton hospice by zip wiring across Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Josie has no intention of ‘calling time’ at the Woodland Tavern any time soon.
The 62-year-old has just signed up for another five years at the pub and is busy planning a new £25,000 alfresco area with seating for 40 for the new year.
Leamington born-and-bred Josie was 18 when she started out in bar work.
During the past 44 years, she has worked in many of the town’s pubs, but the Woodland Tavern was her first pub of her own.
“It used to be my local when I was in my 20s.
"I never dreamed one day it would be mine,” says Josie.
"“It has always been a friendly pub with a lovely atmosphere. It was a golden opportunity when it became available, and I jumped at the chance to take it on.”
The Woodland Tavern is one of Leamington's last remaining traditional local pubs.
Whilst other trends have come and gone in the town’s bars, Josie says she has kept the emphasis on “good beer, great conversation and having a laugh.
She added: "It’s what I loved about Leamington’s pubs when I started out in the 1970s, and I’ve tried to keep that spirit alive."
Listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, the Woodland Tavern is known for serving a great pint and for the quality and range of its beers and ciders.
The Woodland’s old-fashioned feel has won it a loyal following of regulars - some of whom have been frequenting it for more than half a century.
It is also increasingly attracting a younger generation of pub goers who are enjoying rediscovering what a traditional local is all about.
Adds Josie: “I’ve loved every minute of my time at the Woodland. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful pub with so many fantastic customers and staff in my home town.
"It’s a privilege to have my name above the door.”
Star Pubs & Bars area manager Ken Talbot said: “It’s a tremendous achievement to keep a pub at the top of its game for so long and it’s all down to Josie and her great hospitality and high standards.
"She looks after her customers brilliantly and is always ready with a warm welcome and a perfectly poured pint. We wish her many more happy years at The Woodland Tavern’s helm.”