Royal seal of approval for popular pub restaurant chain

HRH Princess Royal presenting Oakman CEO Peter Borg-Neal with the award
HRH Princess Royal presenting Oakman CEO Peter Borg-Neal with the award

Local independent pub operator receives prestigious award from Princess Anne at St James’s Palace ceremony.

Tring-born pub restaurant chain Oakman Inns & Restaurants - operators of 20 contemporary pubs across Herts, Bucks, Beds, Northants, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire - is celebrating after receiving Royal recognition.

Oakman, which all started with the Akeman in Tring under Peter Borg-Neal, was commended for its commitment to training and skills excellence by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at a ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.

Oakman Inns is one of 40 organisations - and the only pub group - honoured with this year’s Princess Royal Training Award for creating lasting impact by successfully linking their skills development needs to business performance.

All 40 recipients demonstrated that training has a significant impact on productivity and business success. They were drawn from across the public and private sector, from a broad range of areas including hospitality, healthcare, finance and manufacturing.

The award recognises the success of Oakman Inns’ online training academy, Oakmanology, which was developed to support and retain their growing number of staff. Using a blend of on-the-job training, role-playing and online interactivity, the programme has produced tangible results in career path development and has improved staff retention by 43%. The ability to develop multi-skills linked to career development and training achievement incentive schemes has also proved a winner for Oakman’s staff.

The Princess Royal Training Awards are delivered by the City & Guilds Group to highlight the value of training and employee development and celebrate examples of best practice. In total, 116 applications were submitted in 2017, with the longlist assessed against three Hallmarks of Excellence by the Princess Royal Training Awards Commission, which comprised of HRH The Princess Royal and seven leading figures in the business and training community. A shortlist of 40 businesses of different sizes and from different industries was then drawn up, with winners including Mercedes-Benz Cars UK, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Waitrose.

Jill Scatchard, Oakman Inns’ HR director, said: “It is a huge honour to be recognised for one’s work, but like everything at Oakman Inns, it’s a team effort driven and inspired by our simple ethos, “To Be The Best We Can Be”. It has been our focus for 10 years now, since our CEO, Peter Borg-Neal opened his first site in Tring; and it is in every aspect of every Oakman activity from community engagement and caring for our environment to sourcing the best ingredients for our dishes created by our talented chefs, to presenting them to our customers by our brilliant staff who are passionate about ensuring our guests are given the best experience they can be.”

Peter Borg-Neal, CEO, Oakman Inns & Restaurants added: “Jill has driven our training and career development programme and I’m so proud of her and all her team for the hard work they’ve put into it. We are a people business and employ an average of 40 at each of our sites. We want them to be passionate and proud of what they do and with three new openings early next year, we are committed to continuing the development of our range of skills and training schemes so that we not only produce the managers of the future but give each one of our team members an opportunity to ‘learn a living’. What better way to celebrate our 10th year.”

Commenting on this year’s recipients, Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds Group said Oakman were ‘truly worthy recipients of this rigorously assessed royal award’.

The Oakman Collection includes:


White Hart, Ampthill


Beech House, Beaconsfield;

Dog & Badger, Medmenham;

The Akeman Inn, Kingswood;

Betsey Wynne, Swanbourne;


King’s Arms, Berkhamsted;

Banyers House, Royston;

Beech House, St Albans;

The Red Lion, Water End;

The Akeman, Tring


The Navigation at Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove


The Crown & Thistle, Abingdon;

The Old Post Office, Wallingford;

Blue Boar, Witney


The Globe, Warwick;

Four Alls, Welford on Avon

West Midlands:

Beech House, Solihull


Beech House, Amersham (Opening Spring 2018)

Cherry Tree, Olney (Opening Spring 2018)