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Time Please! Melton Mowbray’s Longest-Serving Licensees Recognised With Prestigious Award

Melton Mowbray’s longest-serving licensees – Martin Davis and Sandra Shaw of The Half Moon on Nottingham Street – have received a prestigious award to mark their 20th anniversary at the pub. The duo are now aiming to clock up a further decade at the helm.  

The award from the pub’s owners – Star Pubs & Bars – recognises the contribution that Martin and Sandra have made to The Half Moon and the town. Since taking the pub in 2001, the couple have transformed it from a tired, unloved local into a popular community pub known for its beautiful floral displays.  

Despite many changes and pub closures in Melton Mowbray over the years, Martin and Sandra have kept The Half Moon thriving by taking it back to its roots as a traditional local. A menu of pub classics such as fish & chips and Ploughman’s lunch, is served on market days. The rest of the week the emphasis is on a great drinks selection and providing a friendly hub where residents can meet. To bring the community together, the couple stage weekend entertainment and music events and have also put The Half Moon on the map for sports. As well as knocking out a wall to make space for a pool table, they have introduced darts, installed Sky TV and set up three darts teams and a pool team.  

Martin and Sandra have made further improvements to The Half Moon during the pandemic. In addition to extending the courtyard garden to seat 50, they have added café-style tables outside the front of the pub.  

Formerly in construction, Martin was looking for a change of direction when he took over The Half Moon with his partner Sandra. Recalls Martin: “I’d never worked in a pub before but I love socialising, so thought it would be ideal. Friends told me I was mad and that I’d never stick it. I looked at loads of pubs. I visited The Half Moon on market day, and the town had a brilliant buzz about it. I fell in love with the pub straightway. It’s a beautiful old building with an old-fashioned feel and a wonderful atmosphere.” 

Martin admits that on the first day nerves almost got the better of him. Says Martin: “When I found the cellar equipment wasn’t working I nearly walked out, but then a lady came in to welcome us with a beautiful bunch of flowers, so we felt we had to stay. That kind gesture is typical of Melton Mowbray. We aren’t from the town and didn’t know anyone, but people made us feel at home right away. We’ve never looked back. We adore The Half Moon. The best part is seeing customers of all ages and backgrounds mixing and enjoying the pub. It was heartbreaking to have to close for the lockdowns: we missed everyone so much. It’s fantastic to be getting back to normal and to see the market doing so well again.” 

As they celebrate their 20th anniversary, Martin and Sandra are appealing to residents and historians for more information about The Half Moon’s past.  The pub is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and a listed beam - believed to have been from an old hunting lodge on the site in Henry VIII’s time - has pride of place. The Half Moon is also reputed to have the deepest cellar in Melton Mowbray. Says Martin: “It once stored wine for the local gentry, but it’s been sealed up for 35 years. There’s lots of history here. If anyone knows more or has pictures of The Half Moon in bygone days, we’d love to hear from them.” 

Adds Dan Littlewood, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager: “Martin and Sandra have put their heart and soul into The Half Moon and under their stewardship it has become a much-loved local that really adds to the centre of Melton Mowbray. It’s an amazing achievement to have kept a pub at the top of its game for so long. We wish Martin and Sandra many more happy years behind the bar.” 

Looking to the future, Martin and Sandra say their greatest wish is to see The Half Moon preserved for future generations in Melton Mowbray. Says Martin: “It’s our dream to pass it on to one of our family or our team on our 30th anniversary.”