Phileas Fogg founders' new County Durham venture is awarded two top accolades

Keith Gill and his wife Pauline converted their Lanchester home into a bed and breakfast, resulting in rave reviews and awards.

The Old Post Office proprietors Keith and Pauline Gill
The Old Post Office proprietors Keith and Pauline Gill

A luxury bed and breakfast which was opened by the man behind the Phileas Fogg snack company is celebrating being awarded two major industry accolades.

Keith Gill and his wife Pauline opened The Old Post Office less than a year ago after deciding they wanted to take a step back from full-time working without retiring completely.

The couple converted their home in Lanchester, County Durham, into a bed and breakfast, offering guests luxury accommodation and breakfast made from fresh local produce.

Now, three months before it reaches its one-year anniversary, The Old Post Office finds itself in the company of the likes of Bistro 21 and Headlam Hall by being named Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion at the Durham Taste Awards. I

t was the highest award up for grabs and recognised its commitment to sourcing suppliers within a 10-mile radius.

It comes after the bed and breakfast, which has three Post Office themed en-suite bedrooms for guests to choose from, was awarded a Gold 4 Star rating with the AA.

Keith Gill, who co-founded the Phileas Fogg brand in 1982 and sold it for more than £27m in 1993, said: “Converting our house into a bed and breakfast was for us the perfect solution as we both wanted to work less but didn’t necessarily want to retire.

“Pauline works as an English and Drama teacher at a school in Sunderland and really it was getting too much for her, so the plan was to build the bed and breakfast up so she could retire next year.

“However, the response has been so good that she’s now able to retire in the summer and run The Old Post Office with me.

“We’ve always loved travelling and are particularly passionate about using only fresh local produce, so the move into hospitality was a natural step. It means our work/life balance is much better and we’re doing something we love, together.”

Mr Gill, who also founded two food companies, Derwent Valley Foods and The Tanfield Food Company from greenfield start-ups, as well as creating the Look What We Found brand, has admitted the early success of The Old Post office has taken them both by surprise.

The 63-year-old, who still works as a food consultant to companies around the world, added: “When we opened the bed and breakfast of course we hoped it would do well. But neither of us thought it would be doing quite so well so quickly.

“The feedback from guests has been superb and we’re now the recipient of a Gold AA Rosette and the Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion accolade at the Durham Food Awards which is fantastic.

“The fact that Pauline is now able to retire a year sooner than we’d planned is the icing on the cake.”

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