Ye Olde Black Horse in Rottingdean has won the first ever Argus Pub of the Year award.

The historic hostelty received hundreds of votes from readers, seeing off competition from 11 other much loved locals on the shortlist.

Landlords Declan Clancy, 44, and John Towler, 51, said they were delighted but shocked to win and thanked their loyal customers.

The pair took over the High Street pub five years ago and have transformed it into a thriving centre of the community.

Declan said: “We are absolutely delighted to win. It is a real honour.”

Asked what was behind the success of the pub, he said: “We have a really great community here who have an appetite for good food, entertainment and a great atmosphere.

“There is a lot of competition in the village – there are five other venues – but we all offer something different. I think that is the nice thing about it.”

Declan said the pub prides itself on excellent locally sourced seafood.

He added: “The food is local and we are always changing the menu so there is lots of variety. I would describe it as quite traditional but with a gastro twist.”

The pub is also proud to have eight real ales on tap (which change regularly), two local ciders and an array of vodkas and gins behind the bar.

Declan said: “Entertainment is also a big thing for us. We have something on every Friday and on a Sunday in winter we like to have something a bit more laidback.”

When they are at their best, pubs become more than just a place to buy a pint.

They become a force for good, a centre of the community.

That ethos is something close to Declan and John who, since taking over the Black Horse half a decade ago, have raised more than £60,000 for charity.

Declan added: “It is something that is very important to us.

“We hold regular events to raise money and we make sure it goes to local good causes.

“Just the other day we were recognised for our charity work by the Prime Minister who awarded us one of her Point of Light awards.

“It is something we are really proud of.”

It is clear Ye Olde Black Horse has struck a winning formula.

But Declan and John are not resting on their laurels.

Declan said: “We are now looking to the future, starting with a refurb at the end of August.

“We will be closed for a few days but we’ll be back with a fresh look.”

The Argus Pub of the Year competition was staged for the first time with 12 pubs in the running to win.

Readers voted by sending in a voucher printed in The Argus.