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Pub heroes boost their communities

Added: Monday, April 6th 2020

Blinkin Owl

As the nation’s pub lockdown ends its second week, pubs across the country continue to step up to help their local communities. Many of them have turned their businesses into village stores, offering vital supplies for collection or delivery, while others are providing hot meals to people in self-isolation.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on pubs, as on all aspects of our society. However, thousands of licensees are focusing on the needs of their local community and doing whatever they can to help residents, particularly older and vulnerable people.

“Providing food and other essentials is part of this, but we know many pubs are also helping to keep communities connected through online quizzes, Facebook live events and some much-needed humour!  Let’s hope that these wonderful pubs are able to come through the next few months and reopen post-lockdown with even more support from their communities.”

Pub Community Heroes

Pub operator Brains had food worth £100,000 sitting in their 106 managed pubs as the lockdown started. So they decided to give it all away to local NHS and key workers, care homes, food banks and other worthy causes.  Their donations helped more than 40 groups across south and west Wales, including Cwmbran Fire Station, who took some of the food given away by local Brains pub The Blinkin Owl (pictured above).  Brains chief executive Alistair Darby said: “We gave away everything that was going to go out of date while our pubs were closed – much better to have it used by those in need than let it go to waste.”

Licensee Rob Scahill has turned his pub, the Orange Tree in Baldock, Herts, into a community store, offering grocery, household and fresh fruit and veg for locals to buy between 4-7 every day – and a priority service for NHS and other key workers, who are able to reserve items and collect any time. The pub is also continuing with its popular quiz, running on Facebook every Tuesday evening with a promise to be “as normal –  in other words the Quizmaster is still crap and it’s probably not for young children”.

Scahill said: “All the items in the shop are being offered at cost plus 20 per cent, which goes to the Baldock Musicians Support Fund, a group I set up at the start of lockdown to help local musicians who will have no gigs or income for three months.” The fund has raised £1,200 so far.

The Vaults pub in Ruabon, Wrexham, has joined forces with the local NISA store and Age Concern to deliver food and other essentials to the most vulnerable in the community. Assistant manager Gareth Maybury said: “The delivery service has proved really popular and it’s been great to be a part of the community effort to help those in most need. We’re also taking donations here for Age Concern, people have been very generous.”

At the Rising Sun in Henley-on-Thames, licensee Kate Makin – who only took over in January –  says she is now running a "hub, not a pub".  Fresh fruit and veg, meat, groceries and household items are available for collection or home delivery Tuesday through to Saturday, while chef Jordan is busily baking bread, making tasty pickles and jams for sale and trying out some new dishes for the pub’s post-lockdown menu.  The pub’s planned Easter Egg raffle draw will take place on Facebook Live.

The Bevy in Moulsecoomb, East Sussex, has become the hub for a meals on wheels service during lockdown. A team of volunteers at the community-run pub are cooking and delivering hot meals three times a week to older residents who were in the pub’s weekly lunch club, set up to provide companionship, activities and a hearty meal.  Helen Jones at the pub said: “A lot of these people are hard up, feeling very anxious and very isolated. We want people in the area to know that if you can’t get out of your house, you don’t have to go hungry. We’re expecting demand to grow as more people learn about the service.”

A group of licensees in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, have joined forces to help locals struggling during lockdown. The six pubs – The Fort, Anchor, Eagle Coaching Inn, Bruach, Doc Ferry’s and the Occidental – have launched a food bank to deliver food parcels, using a team of 60 volunteers. Most of the deliveries will be made on foot and the scheme is being restricted to a local area to make it manageable. Donations of £900 have already been received.

The Royal Oak in East Lavant near Chichester is running a free soup door-drop to anyone in the local area aged 70+. The drop takes place every day between 12.00 and 1.00 and ensures one hot dish to these people who are self-isolating. The pub is also offering a takeaway menu of pub classics and home essentials.

The Wellington Arms in Sandhurst has made its letting rooms available to a handful of nurses working locally, who were at risk of being made homeless when their previous landlords asked them to leave at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Licensee Harry Demko said: “It was the obvious thing to do when we had empty rooms and we’re pleased to be able to help.”

Information supplied by the British Guild of Beer Writers.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans -- Britain's oldest pub -- is running a home delivery service of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, hummus, eggs and bread. There's a £5 delivery charge but delivery is free for orders of more than £60 and there's also free delivery for old-age pensioners. 01727 638698; www.yeoldefightingcocks.co.uk/pcsp.