Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Stratford Town on Saturday 21st November 2015. We lost 4-2 in front of 261 very cold fans.
will come as no great surprise to some that I spend far too much time
in the pub residents helped to re-open as the first co-op on a
housing estate in the UK. However, it isn't all spent gulping down
beer, but in meetings, organising events, showing people round,
sorting out the garden and being drowned not by beer but by
paperwork. As chair of The Bevy committee I don't get paid a penny
and I don't get free drinks or food. And neither should I. While we
have paid staff, our co-op pub relies on an army of volunteers to
keep it going, not just saving money but also because people see it
as their pub.
of the visions we had when we opened was that it would feel like a
front room; somewhere you felt immediately welcome when you walked
thru the door. Our first ever garden fayre was the perfect example of
how we are achieving that. From 3 to 83 years old, people mingled,
tasted free nibbles and cake, carved pumpkins and enjoyed the banter.
One older resident apologised for arriving early, saying otherwise
she would just be sitting at home on her own. The old guys that
populate the bar in the day raised nearly £200 through raffles and
cake sales to make sure some of our elderly residents would be able
to afford Christmas dinner with us. Last Saturday I missed another
football match because we were at an awards ceremony where we won
best community business in Sussex!
lad with learning disabilities had a stroke recently and has lost
most of his sight. He has been welcomed as part of the last of the
summer-wine-club and one of the builders swapped numbers in case he
ever needed a lift to the pub. It might not seem much, but those
little acts of kindness, strengthen our communities and make them
much better places for everyone. He told me at the awards ceremony he
would be lost without the Bevy.
live in a society that is increasingly isolated, where old people are
left to rot and people live in fear of crime. We know that what we do
will be needed more and more as community spaces are lost to property
vultures, greedy pubcos and a tsunami of council cuts.
have already shown that we are more than just a pub with 40 groups
using the Bevy since we opened last December – everything from felt
making to history groups to health MOTs, WI knit and natter, our
monthly repair cafe, weekly senior tea club, community choir, running
club, Spiral disability group, men and women darts teams, the list
goes on. We've also held our first wedding where at one point there
were 11 vicars in the house!
not all been plain sailing, like any new business we have suffered
from cash flow problems, building problems, personal problems. When
we do get it wrong we get it in the ear, but we have a suggestions
box, and actually most of the people complaining do so because they
want The Bevy to work as well. It's their pub.
it and running has been like turning round a tanker, but we reckon we
have a blueprint of how we can stop the tide of 29 pubs closing a
week by making them more than just pubs. We have spoken to
campaigners wanting to re-open their Brighton locals and I have met
with other community pub campaigners that are springing up all around
our model is really no different to the thousands of football clubs
up and down the country that rely on the same goodwill and passion to
keep their teams ticking over. Come early one Slough Town match-day
and you will see just how many people are involved to make sure
everything runs smoothly.
if you are thinking of any New Year resolutions this year, then I
would say volunteer.
And if you're looking
for an unusual gift for that awkward person then why not buy them a pub for Christmas. Shares in the Bevy are just £10 (tho obviously
don't be shy if you can afford more).
And while you're at it, why not sign someone up to the Slough Town 500 lottery club and help make your football club more financially
Pre-match Slough perfectly sums up what i'm talking about. Photo by Gary House