A HUSBAND and wife who run a restaurant and hotel in Yarcombe are hoping to win the title of ‘Britain’s friendliest business’.

Neil and Sarah Jane Martin, who have owned The Belfry for six-and-a -half years, are among 20 finalists in the national competition, launched by Liberis to reward small businesses which put their customers first.

As well as gaining a much coveted title, the couple would receive a cash prize of £10,000 to spend on the Grade II listed old Victorian school if they win.

Sarah Jane said: “It’s a lovely award to be in the running for. We have had some really lovely comments – it’s just so heart-warming that customers have taken the time to share their thoughts.

“I could forget the money – – it’s about knowing we are looking after our guests well. That means more than anything in the world.

“If we won we would use the money to restore some of the individually leaded windows, refurbish one of the bathrooms and I dare say we would buy a bottle of bubbly, too!”

The couple’s friendly approach begins with welcoming guests with tea and cakes but then they let them get on with their break – they do not want to be intrusive.

Neil and Sarah Jane aim to serve the community by sourcing produce locally, holding weekly coffee mornings for villagers and hosting a monthly ‘knit and natter’ group.

Each finalist now has to get as many Facebook ‘likes’ as possible, with the number of ‘likes’ received considered by the judges when they make their final decision on the winner.

To support The Belfry, visit facebook.com/BritainsFriendliestBiz and click ‘like’ or comment on the hotel’s post on the page, or tweet @LiberisUK using the hashtag #BFBiz.