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Where would Britain be without the pub?

The pressures currently facing pubs threaten this important piece in the fabric of British life

A toy collection by customers of the Swan pub in Heddon On The Wall for Thai orphans
A toy collection by customers of the Swan pub in Heddon On The Wall for Thai orphans

With rising costs, cheaper supermarket alcohol and more people drinking at home, the pressures currently facing pubs threaten this important piece in the fabric of British life.

But we stand to lose far more than just the pubs themselves and the quality and atmosphere they offer.

Here, Martin Ellis from the Tyneside and Northumberland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale looks at the other ways in which pubs are so important and how organisations have been spending last month trying to promote pubs’ vital role in the community.  

 This July the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in association with PubAid ran ‘Pubs and Charity Month’ to highlight the role that pubs play in local community organisations and fundraising. Around 7,000 packs containing beer mats and promotional material were sent out to pubs to help them with their fundraising activities.

When money needs to be raised for a local good cause, the local pub often becomes the central point for organising the campaign and a venue to hold activities.

Many pubs have a nominated charity that they support over many years. It is not unusual for pubs to take up fundraising for local people in need, and it happens so often it is almost assumed that that the pub is the place in the community to turn to when money is needed for a local cause.

A survey was commissioned to research the significance of pubs and charity work, it was discovered that 85% of pubs raise money for charity and the average annual total is £2,742.

 Overall, pubs raise more than £106m for charity a year. Since 2000 there has been a 5% growth in fundraising across the country.

Des O’Flanagan, one of the co-founders of PubAid, said: “What other industry can demonstrate such generosity and selflessness in this economic climate.

“These results should act as a reminder that pubs are very much part of the fabric of our community and make a meaningful contribution.”

And there are plenty of local examples over the last month, too: the landlord of the Black Bull in Haltwhistle as part of ongoing funding for the Great North Air Ambulance has shaved his hair and beard; around 50 staff and customers at the Waterloo in Blyth raised nearly £3,000 for Help for Heroes by leaping from a crane into the car park!

And The Cluny in Newcastle’s Ouseburn held a rubber duck race on the Ouseburn river to raise funds for their neighbour, the Ouseburn Farm, as part of the Ouseburn Festival.

On August 18 more than 70 customers and staff from the Schooner in Gateshead are taking part in a charity cycle to Wylam and back to raise funds for charities that support people with cancer. The chosen charities are Marie Curie and Daft As A Brush.

On return, there will be a rock and roll band playing and a party for all involved. It is a great example of an event where everyone has a great time and charities benefit from much-needed funds.

This weekend at The Cluny the third Dylan Day takes place. From noon ‘til late across two venues there will be a full day of music from local musicians and many musicians who have travelled from across northern England. The money raised will be donated to The North East Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the Teenage Cancer Trust in the North East.

Over the years, pubs have developed the ability to combine charity fundraising with social activities so everyone has fun.

Where would Britain be without the pub?

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