A HAMPSHIRE publican has praised his “amazing” staff after the popular watering hole received a top award.

The Fuller’s-owned Fox & Hounds in Lyndhurst has triumphed in the Best Country/Village Pub category in the company’s annual Pub of the Year contest, the Griffin Trophy.

The pub’s general manager, Thomas Tomlinson, was presented with the award by Fuller’s chairman Michael Turner.

Mr Turner said: “The Fox & Hounds is a destination pub in the heart of the New Forest, where eaters and drinkers alike are looked after with the same friendly and professional service.

“Thomas and his team cater to a variety of events and guest requirements – from a quiet drink to a large function.

“Food is at the centre of the Fox & Hounds’ success and leading the kitchen team is Paul Proost, Fuller’s Young Chef of the Year finalist.

“Paul and his team are renowned for creating delicious, premium dishes with the freshest ingredients and locally sourced produce. The stand-out attraction is the rotisserie, which is a treat for all the senses.”

Mr Turner described the Fox & Hounds as an “idyllic” pub – all on one floor but with four very different areas.

He added: “I’m delighted to present this award to Thomas and the Fox & Hounds. His hard work and exceptional standards establish this pub as a landmark in the Fuller’s estate and in the Forest.”

Mr Tomlinson added: “Our success is down to one thing – our amazing team.

“It’s brilliant to be recognised in this way. We have developed a food and drinks business with exceptional customer service that we’re incredibly proud of. We never stop looking for ways to make it even better.”

The pub, part of which dates from the 16th century, was an important coaching inn on the route between Bournemouth and Southampton.

A Fuller’s spokesman said: “A ritual took place daily up until about 1912.

“The four-in-hand coachman would sound his horn when he passed the Swan Inn at Swan Green, about a mile from Lyndhurst High Street.

“That was the signal for the Fox & Hounds to have the horses ready for the change team, which would pull the coach on to Southampton.”