JUST four votes – that was the difference between first and second place in the Lancashire Telegraph Pub of the Year 2021 awards.

More than 500 people got behind their local and voted for one of the 23 venues in East Lancashire that we had featured as ‘pubs of the week’ on a Thursday.

We can reveal that the Clifton Arms in Blackburn and Casked Ginporium and Alehouse in Rawtenstall were the two battling it out for the top prize.

Licensee Carole Davis and punters from the Grimshaw Park pub were again celebrating after other recent awards success.

Carole, who has been at the Clifton for 17 years, said: “It is unbelievable news and it shows the community we have here.

“They have rallied around and the customers have been asking about the result of it, so this is for them.

“In general our customers are great as during the pandemic they helped out with our delivery of items to those families who were struggling or on their own and may be too proud to ask for help.

“It is all about community at our pub. They want to help each other out and it feels like we are all a family.

“To win is great as there were some big pub chains in the running for it.

“I think it just shows how great Blackburn is.

“We have been in various competitions but when it comes down to a public vote you never know what will happen so it is great that local people have voted for us.”

Mike Jones, from Casked, was just delighted to finish second. He said: “It has been a tough time for the hospitality trade yet people still got behind us.

“It is a team effort and I have half a dozen amazing staff that make this happen.

“To get so many votes is great as it obviously shows we are doing the right thing and people like what we are doing.

“The customers are the real reason that we do this job. Selling the booze is only a way of getting people together to talk with friends. Even if people are on their own others go and chat to them.”

Earning a place in the top three was Oswaldtwistle's The Rhoden Inn.

Landlady Beth Lancaster said: “We are just a little back street pub so it is amazing that we were even just in the running for it and in the top three in East Lancashire.

“We would not have been able to do it without the support and votes from all our locals as we were up against some big pub names out there.

“Perhaps it just show that old school pubs are still popular even though we have a modern twist.”