Great Yarmouth hoteliers Aileen and Nick Mobbs take top honour at Norfolk Food and Drink Awards

Aileen and Nick Mobbs of the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth won for Outstanding Achievement at the

Aileen and Nick Mobbs of the Imperial Hotel in Great Yarmouth won for Outstanding Achievement at the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The owners of the Imperial Hotel almost didn't make it to our food awards this year.

The stars of Norfolk's food and drink industry gathered together on Monday evening for the annual Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, honouring winners across 12 categories.

Tea rooms, restaurants, producers, pubs, hotels and chefs were given recognition at the East of England Co-op sponsored event – but two of the biggest winners on the night almost didn't make it!

Having spent the weekend at Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival (which they help organise) Aileen and Nick Mobbs from the town's Imperial Hotel were knackered and only decided to attend the ceremony at the last minute, where they were shocked to win the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Aileen laughed: 'Having accepted the invitation I thought 'I don't think we can get there'. I couldn't get my shoes on my feet were so sore. We were totally out of the zone.'

The hotelier, who's worked in the industry for over 30 years with her husband, says they were shocked and delighted with the win, which will give a massive boost to Great Yarmouth – a town she says is often overlooked.

MORE: See all the winners of the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2017.

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'We've always been ambassadors for Great Yarmouth. It's seen as the poor relative on the coast and there's a bit of snobbery about it so we try to lift the image of the town up by making people realise there's great quality here.'

Aileen said she's proud of the third generation business, and that she and her husband work tirelessly for the industry and are always trying to give back to the community via events such as a maritime festival and through training chefs in their kitchen.

Richard Hughes, Mark Hix and Daniel Smith all started their careers at the hotel.

'When we joined the family business it was a two star but now it's four star,' Aileen added. 'I think our relationship has a lot to do with it. We're side by side at work and at home. We work very well together and have an extraordinary team of people working for us, who are like our family. People think you're being sarcastic when you say that, but we really do see them more than we do our own family. The team are just amazing.

'Catering needs great people and exceptional dedication. We work really hard – when you own your own business that's what you do. But now we're thinking, does this award mean we can retire? We keep talking about it, but never seem to pull ourselves away!'

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