THERE are many hardworking pub landlord and landlady teams across the locality. And one of the most popular and successful pairings in the East Lancashire pub trade, bade a fond farewell after six and a half years at the Hare and Hounds, Padiham last week.

Stef and Laura Riley had received many accolades at their former hostelry. Transforming a tired, rundown establishment in to a multi award-winning watering hole.

The pub was crowned East Lancs CAMRA Pub of the Year, for the Burnley area in 2015. However, a new challenge and opportunity has been presented to the pair, not too far away in Harle Syke, Burnley. Ironically, at a pub of the same name.

Laura said: “It was a decision we had not taken lightly. We have met some wonderful people during our stay in Padiham. We will miss them all very much. Both me and Stef felt we had taken the pub as far as we could. And when the new opportunity arose, we felt we would have been foolish not to accept it.

Well, it also presented a new opportunity for me. I only live a short distance from the pub. It would have been rude not for me to visit Stef and Laura at this semi-rural establishment.

It was a tad surreal witnessing the new hosts behind the bar, in this traditional, community pub on the outskirts of Burnley; as I had visited their former pub many times during their six and a half year tenure.

Before I could even get to the bar, Stef was insistent on guiding me and my loyal labrador, Lucy, to the cosy room, adjacent to the main bar area.

Blimey, some of the regular customers from the Hare and Hounds, Padiham, had had the same intentions as me to visit the pub.

It was a lovely surprise - and proving what popular and respected hosts they are.

Back in the well-populated main bar area, it was very much the type of environment I was expecting; customers exchanging friendly chat and banter; warm welcome from Stef and Laura and a fine choice of cask ales from local breweries.

There were beers being dispensed from Burnley-based, Reedley Hallows and Worsthorne breweries and one from Accrington’s Big Clock. I plumped for the Honey Stout from the latter - a smooth, rich and roasted malt flavoured offering at 5%. It was delicious.

The IPA from Reedley Hallows also hit the spot. They were both in excellent nick. Stef has forged a fine reputation for his cellarmanship and his beers are always in exceptional condition.

The pub was originally a two-roomed establishment. But it now boasts an extended and spacious dining area at the rear along with a patio and beer garden with benched seating, overlooking the magnificent and far reaching countryside views.

Laura said: “We already have many events planned for 2019 at the Hare and Hounds. We will also be looking forward to being involved with the Harle Syke Gala and other community events.”

I am sure Stef and Laura will replicate the excellent reputation they had at their former pub. They were so passionate and committed in serving their customers in Padiham and beyond.

I am confident it will be a seamless transition in moving to their new venture in Harle Syke. I wish them continued success - they thoroughly deserve it.