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Planning for the Future

Chrissy Harris discovers how Paul and Ness Moir are future-proofing the historic Cridford Inn in Trusham with community-focused and green goals

The Cridford Inn team standing outside the pub in Trusham

As learning curves go, it’s been steep. In August 2018, Paul and Ness Moir arrived at The Cridford Inn with no experience and no clue how to run a pub. “Yes,” says Paul. “We’re your stereotypical ‘let’s just leave the fast pace of life in the outer circles of London and move to Devon’ type people. We just went for it. Top board. In at the deep end.”

The couple paddled furiously for 18 months, putting everything they had into the business – both financially and emotionally. “It was brutal,” says Paul, a former service manager at a car dealership. “It’s testament to our steely resilience that we survived it. Then we got to the beginning of 2020 and we thought this is it. We’re going to survive the spring and the summer is going to make us…”

Well, we all know what happened next. So, it’s pretty amazing, that here we are, two years later, talking about Paul and Ness’s plans for their thriving business, including reducing their food miles further and researching their carbon footprint. “We’ve set out all our goals and we’ve got a perfect picture of what we’re aiming for,” says Paul. “We’re excited about the future.”

Funnily enough, the pandemic actually helped. “It was a massive pause button,” says Paul, explaining that after the initial shock and fear, the couple had time to reflect – and get jobs done. “We decorated the upstairs and got around to doing the million things we hadn’t done,” he adds. “More than that, it allowed us to connect with the community.”

The Cridford, a beautiful Devon longhouse dating back to 825AD, was remodelled in 1081, and has been at the heart of village life for centuries. During lockdown, it was the hub of the area’s response to the pandemic, acting as a base for Paul and his team, plus the local church and village committee to support some of the Teign Valley’s most vulnerable residents. The community rallied and Paul, Ness and team came out of it stronger, ready to build on everything they’d learned.

The Cridford has a strong local produce ethos, something Paul and Ness are now keen to expand. The menu, rather unusually for this type of set-up, has a strong Asian influence, thanks to head chef Johnny Varah’s passion for far eastern flavours. And yet, despite the exotic feel of some of the dishes, many of the ingredients come from just a few miles away.

The fish is from Brixham, and the beef, pork and chicken come from just down the road at Beardon Farm. The honey used to make cakes, honeycomb and to glaze the parsnips for the much-loved Sunday roasts comes from local beekeeper Mick McGee. And the cooking apples come from a nearby orchard. The Cridford has its own herb garden and wild garlic is foraged from the woods behind the pub. “The produce around here is absolutely fantastic,” says Paul. “We see The Cridford as a lifestyle and I say that to the staff. Yes, this is a business but we’re here for the way of life and we want to share that with you.”

Paul and Ness, who have two sons, aged 21 and 19, are also keen to do their bit for future generations and reduce The Cridford’s carbon footprint. The plan is to spend this year gathering together enough information to build a picture of what that footprint looks like, before deciding how to cut emissions. “I’d love to say we’ll be carbon zero by 2025, but the fact is, I don’t know just yet,” says Paul, who has recently taken part in a series of webinars to boost his knowledge. “This year, we’ve decided to work together as a team to plan how we’re going to measure our carbon footprint, what contributes towards it and what we can do about it.”

This 1,000-year-old building is the very symbol of sustainability. The ancient, wobbly cob walls have adapted and survived most things over the centuries during the building’s former lives as a nunnery and farm. Paul and Ness know they’re just the latest custodians, but are passionate about this place and what it means to the community.

“As time goes by, we fall in love with it even more,” says Paul, busy washing up in the kitchen after serving breakfast to the Cridford’s B&B guests. ‘We have so many happy customers. That lifts everyone’s spirits – when somebody says our food is just incredible, or they love that warmth of feeling when they walk through the door. All of that, it just feeds the soul.”

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