A PUB owner is celebrating his Peebles business being shortlisted for a national award.

The Central Bar, Northgate, is in contention for a Best Bar None Scotland prize in the ‘newcomer’ category.

Roddy Mackay, who has run the pub since 2006, told the Peeblesshire News he feels privileged to be heading to the prize-giving at Dunblane Hydro on March 19.

Mr Mackay, 62, said: “If we won it would be just amazing, that would be terrific - especially being the first time we’ve entered.”

The success comes after the Central Bar picked up a gold award in the annual Best Bar None Borders event, which promotes safe and responsible practice within licensed premises.

A ceremony on March 5 at the Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells saw a total of 21 venues gain accreditation, with 16 achieving gold standard.

Mr Mackay, who had never entered the awards before, said inspectors had been impressed with his pub’s attempt to create a safe drinking environment.

Asked for examples of responsible practices, the Cardona resident said his staff are always willing to call taxis for customers when required.

Mr Mackay also pointed to the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme, a project designed by the police to help people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe on dates.

Mr Mackay said: “A lot of people do this internet dating and if you go out for a date and discover the person you meet is not the person you thought you were going to meet, you can go to the bar and say, ‘Is Angela in tonight?’ and that means, ‘Can you get me a taxi?’”

Customers in the Central Bar are encouraged to opt for a soft drink if they ever feel like one, Mr Mackay added.

“Don’t be worried about asking for a glass of water if you’re in our pub - or asking for a cup of tea or coffee,” said Mr Mackay, previous owner of the Keg Lounge Bar, who described his establishment as “nice and cosy”.

Reflecting on the upcoming event in Dunblane, Mr Mackay cited the quality of the competition - which includes the Marriott Hotel in Edinburgh - but he indicated he is looking forward to the occasion.

“We’re up against some big names in the national awards - some big hotels - but it’s an honour to go that far, to be involved,” said Mr Mackay,

He added: “It will be a nice day out - we’ll go out to Dunblane and stay overnight. So, if nothing else, we’ll have a nice trip - but it would be nice to come back with some recognition.”

Two other Borders venues are heading to the national finals, with The Plough Hotel, Yetholm, in the running for ‘Best Individual Pub/Bar’ and ‘Heart of the Community’, while The Queens Head Hotel, Kelso, features in the 'Best Hotel Bar’ category.

The Borders’ Best Bar None coordinator Nick Walker said: “Best Bar None plays a vital role in ensuring everyone can enjoy a safe night out, and I would like to congratulate all the venues which have taken part.

“Safety has to be the first priority on a night out, and all our licensed premises have shown a real commitment placing the welfare of staff and customers first.”

Councillor John Greenwell, chairman of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board, said it was “really reassuring” to see customer care and safety being taken seriously.

He added: “I congratulate all of our worthy winners and also wish Kelso’s Queens Head, Plough Hotel in Yetholm and Central Bar in Peebles the best of luck in the national Best Bar None finals.”