CHAMPAGNE flowed as scheme aimed at raising the standard of nightlife in Bedford Town Centre drew to a close this week.
In total, 18 premises applied to be accredited for the Best Bar None initiative but just 13 met the tough safety and customer service standards required.
The climax of the evening, held on Tuesday in the Bedford Corn Exchange, came as the best overall venue and public choice were announced.
Elements Nightclub in Mill Street scooped the top award, while silver went to The Barley Mow and highly commended to newcomers Pub in the Hub.
Gabi, manager of Elements, said: “We are very proud to have received the Gold Award.
“Every venue that was accredited worked extremely hard to reach the required level.”
The scheme was launched in July with sponsorship from the National Best Bar None organisation, Charles Wells, BedfordBID and Bedfordshire on Sunday.
Judges from the fire service, Charles Wells and the BID reviewed inspection reports ‘blind’ to pick the most deserving winner.
On the night, plaques were awarded to representatives from the 13 venues by the Mayor, Dave Hodgson, and Police Chief Inspector Neill Waring.
A Public Choice award as voted for by you, the readers of Bedfordshire on Sunday, went to The Barley Mow in St Loyes Street.
As one of the oldest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender venues in the country, manager Jake Kwan was thrilled to learn that the pub swept the board with two thirds of the vote.
Collecting his award from BoS group editor Steve Lowe, he said: “I believe this award to really represent an affirmation of equality in Bedford. For an LGBT venue in a small town to be voted public choice is a great message and something Bedford should be proud of.
“The town centre has seen some criticism recently. As an industry we get all the blame and rarely the reward for what are for the most part well run venues.”
During the evening, more than £1,400 was raised for a defibrillator to be installed in the High Street after taxi marshall Dave Lancaster suffered a heart attack last year.
An outstanding contribution award was also presented to the Bedford Street Angels, who have been taking care of partygoers on Friday and Saturday nights for the last five years. It was received by Angels coordinators Fred and Fran Gill whose son Robert was killed in 2007 during a night out in the town.
Fran said: “We are honoured to be here tonight to collect this award for the Street Angels. It has been a pleasure working with such wonderful people over the years and I hope we continue to make a difference.”
The prestigious award is named after Graham Dean, commercial services manager at the University of Bedfordshire Students’ Union, who died suddenly of a heart attack last November, and was received by Fred and Fran Gill on behalf of the Street The thirteen accredited venues were named as: The Bankers Draft; The Barley Mow; The Bedford Arms; Chameleon Bar; Elements; Number 13, Bedford Corn Exchange; The Pad Nightclub; The Pilgrim’s Progress; The Pub in the Hub; The Rose; Vibe; Vogue Bar and Club; and Yates.Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the commitment to drive up standards and promote a safe and enjoyable night out in Bedford Town Centre.
“It was great to see that every venue had risen to the challenge of the scheme, which made it incredibly hard to decide the winner.”
Fred and Fran from Bedford Street Angels are at 2:18 -