A ‘pub that does food’ and serves as an entertainment hub for the whole of the community is up for a national award

The Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe, is in the running for the Best Pub for Entertainment title at the Great British Pub Awards 2024
-Credit: (Image: dunescomplex/facebook.com)

A rundown seaside theatre that was brought back from the brink of dereliction is in the running for a national award.

Paddy Prince has owned the Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe, for about 12 years and is “chuffed as anything” to be listed among the finalists at the Great British Pub Awards 2024 in the category of Best Pub for Entertainment. Paddy said the hospitality industry had been a challenge over the past few years and he decided to enter the Dunes for a bit of recognition.

“I am chuffed as anything we have managed to get shortlisted,” he said, “especially in the kind of field we are competing against.” Ex-youth worker and teacher Paddy, who has lived in the Mablethorpe area for about 30 years, took over the formerly council-owned Dunes and has been restoring it over the years to make it into the community hub it is today.


“We’re a pub that does food,” said Paddy, “and what we have tried to do is put on a good entertainment package that is predominantly low-cost; we’re a low-income area. We try to offer something for everybody, from kids’ entertainment to burlesque nights.

“We have games nights, including bingo, and games that all the family can take part in, with a certain amount going to charity. We have wrestling and speak-easy nights – it’s all about trying to keep things going and trying to keep things fresh.”

The Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe, is licensed for civil weddings
The Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe, is licensed for civil weddings -Credit:dunescomplex/facebook.com

The Dunes is also licensed for civil weddings, putting on about five to six weddings a year, and can hold a variety of functions as part of being the go-to venue for all ages and all occasions. Paddy said: “The Dunes was an old theatre on the seafront that the council used to run and they put it out on long-term lease.

“It went into quite a bit of disrepair. They had mothballed the theatre element of it and gutted it and turned it into a kids’ area; we restored it and it has taken a lot of time, effort and money. We’ve gradually put everything back in new.

“Because we are on the seafront we put on outdoor entertainment when the weather is with us and it’s a great attraction that benefits the businesses around us. As a business we go from five members of staff to about 30 in the summer and a lot of young people start their working life with us.

“In our time we must have had about 150 people through our door who have gone on to university or are doing their own thing in the trades. Developing young people for work is something I have always wanted to see happening.”

The Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe - brought back from the brink of dereliction
The Dunes Complex, Mablethorpe - brought back from the brink of dereliction -Credit:dunescomplex/facebook.com

The Great British Pub Awards 2024 celebration for finalists will take place in Manchester on September 17. The Dunes is up against finalists from London, Bournemouth and Somerset in its category, with a total of 16 awards being competed for.

Paddy said: “We are going to Manchester, we are going to make an event of it. Some of the more established staff members will be going, along with some of our partners in the entertainment we put on.”

The organisers of the Great British Pub Awards said: “We'd like to say a huge congratulations to all of the incredible pubs that have made it this far. You brilliant pub owners and operators truly are the backbone of this historic industry - keep it up – and the next stop is the big night itself.”

Last year’s Best Pub for Entertainment winner was the Kings Arms, Bexleyheath, South East London.