Landlady wins BT Sport's Manager of the Month award
PUBLISHED: 08:50 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:51 16 February 2018
Stephen Ambrose Photography
A Beccles landlady has been recognised for her unwavering support of her local women's football team with an award from BT Sport.
Michelle Payne, of The Ingate Free House, in Grove Road , has won BT Sport’s Manager of the Month award for her support of Beccles Town Ladies FC.
Ms Payne has long championed women’s sport and said her involvement with the club, which formed last year, has helped her attract new customers – with players and fans alike visiting the pub regularly.
She said: “Our pub was mainly male orientated, as is sports, so it was great to back the team and show the girls their worth by sponsoring them.
“The Ingate is changing attitudes to how a traditional pub has been in the past – we strive to take things forward in a positive way.
“We don not need to compete with gastro pubs or major outlets; we need to be an inclusive and friendly place to go.
“As a male or female you can just pop in and have access to what you have at home, only in a more sociable environment.
“We are so proud that BT Sport has recognised our achievements.”
Ms Payne was presented with her Manager of the Month trophy for January by England and Reading midfielder Fara Williams.
Before turning her attention to The Ingate Free House Ms Payne ran an art gallery in the town – a role which also allowed her to change and challenge perceptions.
As well as supporting Beccles Town ladies FC the landlady regularly screens the FA Women’s Super League.
Ms Payne said: “More women are coming in to watch both men and women play,
“It is enjoyable for me to see how women are more interactive in a pub atmosphere when the games are on.”
Bruce Cuthbert, director of commercial customers for BT Sport, congratulated Ms Payne and the rest of The Ingate Free House team.
He said: “Both sports and pubs are evolving to become more inclusive and the excellent work Michelle is doing at the Ingate and with Beccles Town Ladies FC is a shining example of this.”