The West Dorset Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale

Colliton Club among top four in UK!

For the sixth time in ten years, Dorchester’s Colliton Club has been chosen as the CAMRA Wessex Regions Club of the Year. Chosen by local members of CAMRA as the West Dorset Club of the year, the club was then judged against other clubs in the Wessex Region (Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and parts of Wiltshire & Somerset). It will now go forward to be judged against three other clubs for the national title! Read Michel’s report with photos here.


COLLITON CLUB NAMED AMONG THE TOP FOUR
CLUBS IN THE UK BY THE CAMPAIGN FOR REAL ALE

by Michel Hooper – Immins

The popular Colliton Club, situated opposite County Hall in Dorchester, is one of four finalists in the National Club of the Year competition run by the Campaign for Real Ale [CAMRA.] This news emerged at the presentation of the framed certificate for the Wessex Regional Club of the Year- won by the Colliton Club for the sixth time in ten years.

Colliton Club Steward Neil Gatehouse holds the Regional Club of the Year certificate, just presented by CAMRA Regional Director John Buckley [fourth right.] West Dorset Branch Secretary Tony Egerton is far left and Colliton Club Chairman Ian Morton is second left. West Dorset Branch Chairman Dave Harris stands third from the right.

There are four hurdles to become CAMRA’s National Club of the Year,” explains Michel Hooper-Immins, the Regional CAMRA Organiser of the Club and Pub of the Year competitions. “At the start of this year, the West Dorset CAMRA branch nominated the Colliton Club, which gives entry to the Regional Club of the Year competition. In August, they won the Wessex Regional title and joined clubs from 15 other CAMRA regions in the next round. The last 16 were then grouped into fours and in the latest round, the Colliton Club beat Dartford Working Mens Club, Cheltenham Motor Club and the Kinver Constitutional Club near Dudley, to rise into the top four for the national finals.”

CAMRA’s prestigious Club of the Year competition has been run for many years, but this year for the first time this year with the support of Club Mirror, to encourage more clubs to sell real ale. Colliton Club Steward Neil Gatehouse was invited to the Club Mirror dinner in Manchester to be acclaimed as one of four winners of the third heat. He was presented with a commemorative dish. The national winner will be announced in about three months.

The Regional Club of the Year certificate was presented by CAMRA Regional Director John Buckley. Regional Pub and Club of the Year Organiser Michel Hooper-Immins congratulated the Colliton Club on winning the regional title six times in ten years- in 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2010 and now in 2011. The Wessex Region comprises Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and parts of Surrey, Wiltshire & Somerset.

Colliton Club Chairman Ian Morton is absolutely delighted: “It’s marvellous that we’ve won the regional title for the sixth time and are in the national finals. I sincerely commend the Steward and his staff on their excellent work. Well done to Neil Gatehouse on finding six superb real ales every week and for supporting West Country breweries, specially the smaller ones. I thank CAMRA for recognising the excellence of our club. We welcome CAMRA members on production of their membership card.”
I was astounded, but ecstatic, to hear the Colliton Club have made it into the top four clubs in the UK,” says delighted Steward Neil Gatehouse. “It is wonderful to be recognised on a national level and I’m really chuffed to be named as one of the top four clubs in the whole country. We will go on serving real ales not usually found in this part of the UK.”

West Dorset CAMRA Chairman Dave Harris is pleased the Colliton Club has gone so far in the national competition. “It has been consistently excellent over many years and is a great help to CAMRA- in fact we hold some of our meetings there. We in West Dorset CAMRA are delighted to have such a vibrant club in our area. We wish the Colliton Club every success in the national competition.”

CAMRA Regional Organiser John Buckley says: “We want to encourage clubs to sell more real ale and this competition is a way of promoting that aim. I congratulate the Colliton Club on reaching the national finals of the Club of the Year competition and I must say I always enjoying visiting the club.”

The regional judges wrote, in the citation: “Six well-kept real ales are the stars of this busy club, very much the hub of the community as many local groups and societies meet here. I much enjoyed the St. Austell Tribute and two beers from Islands Brewery in the Isle of Wight- Wight Knight and Yachtsman- all in super condition.

Colliton Club Chairman Ian Morton [left,] Steward Neil Gatehouse [centre] and Deputy Steward Andy Pain [right] with the CAMRA Regional Club of the Year certificate and the commemorative dish marking being one of four finalists in the CAMRA National Club of the Year competition.

A crowded trophy cabinet shows the members excel at a number of different sports. At the heart if the Colliton Club is much respected Steward Neil Gatehouse, a great supporter of CAMRA and of real ale in particular. With four regular ales and two guests, he offers tasters when requested and his knowledge of beer is wide and thorough. Service is swift, even at the busiest times and a happy atmosphere pervades all corners of this remarkable and upbeat club.”

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