A Cowling woman has been named best pub area manager in the country in a prestigious national campaign.

Heike Funke, who oversees 45 pubs across West Yorkshire as senior area manager for Punch Taverns, won the accolade in the competition organised by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

The contest involved a long judging process involving industry experts, while the best 19 attended the final at Old Billingsgate, London.

Heike said she was delighted and honoured to have won. “I found the whole process such an insightful and enjoyable experience from start to finish,” she said.

“The ceremony was a grand affair and it was great to be rewarded and recognised in the industry.”

Nick Bish, chief executive of the ALMR, said: “The standard of the class of 2012 was exceptionally high and this is demonstrated by the fact that a highly commended award was given for the first time.”

David Wigham, Punch Taverns operations director in charge of pubs in the North, said this year the company had four area managers in the final.

“This is a fantastic achievement in itself and a source of great encouragement for our ongoing strategy of developing the best team of area managers in the industry,” he said.

“Heike adds enormous value to our pubs through her natural enthusiasm and pro-active approach.

“We are very proud of her and delighted to see her hard work and professionalism recognised in this way.”