THE owner of a pub in North Yorkshire has reached the finals of a national award.

Alex Cook, owner of The Mill and Il Mulinos in Stokesley, has heard that his pub, The Mill, has reached the finals of the Great British Pub Awards, competing against eight others.

As a result of coronavirus and the devastating effect it has had on the pubs, for this year only, The Great British Pub Awards will celebrate those establishments that have adapted their businesses, during the pandemic, in order to perform vital community services.

Alex said: "During the first week of lockdown, I was so worried. We didn't know what would happen, but quickly we adapted our business to deliver takeaways from both establishments.

"We sold pizza kits, which consisted of a dough ball, tomato sauce and all the necessary ingredients to make a pizza. The demand was huge – we sold 2,500 in one week. Inspired by Nandos, which had closed, we created Pollo, selling rotisserie chickens, which was a call and collect or delivery service."

Pollo was such a success that it covered all the bills and made a profit, so the money was put into creating a Community Garden, a beautiful outside space attached to the Mill, where people, especially the elderly, can meet others in a safe and beautiful space, without going inside the pub.

During lockdown, they used all their freezer stock to deliver 1,000 free meals on wheels, mainly through family requests, from people who lived out of the area, for deliveries to parents and grandparents who live locally.

Alex's latest venture is to make use of the space in the Mill's vast car park, and utilise disused outbuildings to create brightly coloured beach huts for private dining, with a beach in front of them, on a Staycation theme. He has made good use of the large outside space to create another beer terrace.

"We haven't really stood still," said Alex. "We have a very good following in both businesses and we wanted to adjust our businesses to the times, listening to what people wanted. The Mill is now refurbished and redecorated and we are scrupulous about safety, with track and trace, social distancing, and a one-in-one out toilet system.

"We also have plans for the outside space at Il Mulinos with covered canopies and heaters for outside dining as the seasons change. The Eat to Help Out has been a real success – our takings comparable to Christmas, and we are so grateful for all the support we have had."

The success of the Great British Pub Awards relies on a public vote, so if you would like to vote for the Mill, go to