A SMALL Hampshire pub has been named as the region’s top watering hole for the second year running, despite looking set to be lost to developers less than four years ago.

Now, The Wonston Arms, near Sutton Scotney, is battling it out for a prestigious national award.

Following landlord Matt Tod’s gamble to take on the pub after 11 years as a regular, he has now collected his second Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Wessex and Channel Islands regional winner award.

As previously reported, the 49-year-old dropped his life in the world of corporate marketing and stepped up to buy the pub when it set to be lost for good.

Speaking after last year’s award win, Matt said: “It’s just a little pub in the countryside. My biggest asset is my customers; no one is ever turned away, the locals provide a really friendly community atmosphere.”

Following the Wonston Arms’ regional success, it will now compete with the 15 other winners for the title of National Pub of the Year, with the winner expected to be announced in November.