A BEER garden overlooking the Borders Railway is part of a major refurbishment planned next year for the Ladhope Inn in Galashiels.

The investment was revealed this week by mine host Scott Paterson who, tomorrow night, will be the sole flag-bearer for the Borders at a glittering ceremony in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel.

Scott, who will attend the event with his wife Pauline, is one of only three publicans nominated for the Scottish Licensee of the Year award.

It is arguably the most prestigious of the 20 categories, each with shortlists of three, in the annual SLTN Awards, held in conjunction with the Scottish Licensed Trade News and hosted by top Scots comedian Kevin Bridges.

Scott, acknowledged for his role as licensee of both the Ladhope and the Auld Mill, is up against Brian Flanagan of the Carrick in Irvine and Bob Calder of the Bieldside Inn in Aberdeen.

“It’s a real honour to be shortlisted and to be the only Borderer – and represent the only Borders establishment – in this year’s awards,” Scott told the Border Telegraph yesterday.

“The pub trade generally has been in the doldrums, but I’ve managed to buck the trend with turnover across the two pubs up 10% last year and by 15% in the first six months of this year.

“That has given me the confidence to draw up plans to transform the Ladhope. We want to make the most of the new railway as it passes the rear of the premises and we hope the beer garden will be a real family attraction.” Scott worked in textiles and property management with his late father Dunc before taking over the BJ licensed grocery in Gala Park.

But his career took a new turn eight years ago when he met Gordon Amos, who owned the Ladhope, at a quiz night.

“I told Gordon how much I enjoyed the licensed trade and he asked me if I fancied buying his pub,” recalled Scott. “Within two days, the deal was done and I was a publican.” Three years later, Scott acquired the Auld Mill and he has not looked back.

“I realised early on that having excellent bar staff was the key to success and I’ve been very lucky in that regard. My being shortlisted for the award is a real tribute to them.” Nominated by his main supplier Carlsberg, Scott’s citation states: “He and his pubs are highly regarded in the town…he is involved in many local charity events and sponsors local clubs; he is also a member of the local Pub Watch initiative. Scott is very community focused and listens to his customers and what they want.” After being nominated, Scott sent off photographs and details of his various sponsorships which include Stow Football Club, Tweedbank Thistle, Gala Wanderers RFC, Galashiels Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band and Gala Cricket Club for whom he still regularly turns out as a player. He also supports the Rowan Boland Trust which raises money to develop the talents of young athletes.

Among the photographs was one of Grand National winning jockey and former Braw Lad Ryan Mania who proclaimed the Auld Mill his favourite hostelry on his triumphant return from Aintree.

“I also offered my views on what a pub should be: clean, well run, with good beer, excellent staff and friendly punters,” said Scott.

As a result, he was put on a short-list of six before being visited by SLTN judges and voted into the top three.

Scott has recently diversified into external catering and has been engaged at several large weddings, including the recent nuptials at Ferniehirst Castle, Jedburgh, of Scotland rugby captain Greg Laidlaw and his Galashiels fiancée Rachel Runciman.

“The Borders is often forgotten in the national arena, so here’s hoping I can help put us back on the pub map,” said Scott.