The family who own and run Whimple’s New Fountain Inn say they’re ‘over the moon’ at winning the Sidmouth Herald Pub of the Year award, voted for by readers.

The pub is owned by Kevin Wheaton, who grew up in the village, and is run by his son Lee Wheaton and Lee’s partner Kaya Taylor.

Messages of congratulations flooded in after the family posted the news of their win on Facebook at the end of last month, with many customers commenting that the award is ‘well-deserved’.

Lee told the Herald: “I think it’s because we give a massive warm welcome, we’re a family-run pub, we’re not linked to any brewery. We do care, we’re here for the public and we put our hearts and souls into the business.”

The family had already earned ‘local heroes’ status when they bought the pub in 2022, saving it from redevelopment and giving it a new lease of life. Late in 2020, after the Covid lockdowns, the previous owners had submitted a planning application to build three houses in the car park and turn the New Fountain Inn into a ‘micro-pub’.

The Whimple community was outraged and a 'Save the Fountain' action group was formed. Lee Wheaton was part of that group, and an agreement was reached for his father to buy the pub. The purchase went through in September 2022 and the family spent a few months refurbishing the pub, doubling the inside seating space. The New Fountain Inn reopened in April 2023, and welcomed ‘thousands’ of customers in the first week alone. Since then, the family haven't looked back.

Lee told the Herald: “We get a lot of support from the public, especially the people in and around East Devon, because we saved the pub from being redeveloped.

“The pub’s been revived, we’ve brought it back to life and it’s gone from strength to strength.  I think people do like the fact that there’s a family feel, it’s nice and cosy here, and I think that’s gone a long way, and that’s what got us all these votes.”

The family have said ‘a massive thank-you’ to all the Herald readers who voted for them to win the Pub of the Year Award.

Also nominated were: The Radway Inn, The Balfour Inn, the Swan Inn, The Anchor Inn and the Marine, all in Sidmouth, along with The Rising Sun in Sidford, The Volunteer Inn and The London Inn, both in Ottery St Mary, and The Otter Inn in Colaton Raleigh.