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Coal Aston Licensee Receives Prestigious Long-Service Award

A Coal Aston licensee has received a prestigious long-service award from Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars in recognition of his commitment to the village’s pubs and his contribution to the community.

Anthony Hutchinson marks his 20th anniversary at The Cross Daggers this year and will celebrate a further 20 years at The Royal Oak just round the corner in six months’ time.

Anthony, who comes from Sheffield, took over The Cross Daggers* from his parents Derek and Christine in 2000 and has since built up its reputation as an outstanding traditional village pub. Whilst he keeps the pub in top condition and updates the drinks range in line with new trends, including an extensive spirits selection, little else changes. The Cross Daggers serves no food and the emphasis is on great beer, good conversation and a warm, friendly atmosphere where all feel welcome. The approach has won the pub a loyal following of customers aged from 18 to 80 plus who come from a 25-mile radius to enjoy stepping back in time. Many regulars have been frequenting The Cross Daggers for more than 40 years.

Anthony does not just keep two Coal Aston pubs thriving but gives back to the community in other ways, too. Realising that the only commemoration of the village’s soldiers was a World War One roll of honour in The Cross Daggers, Anthony led a fundraising drive to get a war memorial for Coal Aston. He now organises the village’s annual Remembrance Day service at the memorial, which is attended by more than 500 people.

In addition, Anthony started the village’s popular torch lit Christmas carols in 2015 which attracts a crowd of over 300. He is also the Dronfield Town Councillor and the North East Derbyshire District Councillor representing Coal Aston.

Looking to the future, 55-year-old Anthony plans to clock up more decades at the helms of The Cross Daggers and The Royal Oak. Says Anthony: “The pubs are everything to me – I’ll have to be carried out! The Cross Daggers and The Royal have been part of Coal Aston life for nearly two centuries, and I want to ensure they’re still here and flourishing for future generations. The support from residents is fantastic; they always get behind anything we put on, I can’t thank them enough.”

Adds Neil Bircumshaw, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager for Dronfield: “It’s a tremendous achievement to keep one pub at the top of its game for so long – let alone two. It’s all down to Anthony and his great hospitality and high standards. We wish him many more happy years at both The Cross Daggers and The Royal Oak.”

*Converted from two cottages in 1835, the pub was initially called The Daggers after the cartmaker or 'jagger' who originally lived there. Over time, the name changed to The Cross Daggers, in reference to the area outside known as the Cross.