Pockets picked in aid of kids

Related tags Stuart bateman Christmas eve

The Regional Brewers' Nat-ional Account Managers' Christmas lunch kicked off the festive season in fine style last week, with Stuart Bateman stealing...

The Regional Brewers' Nat-ional Account Managers' Christmas lunch kicked off the festive season in fine style last week, with Stuart Bateman stealing the show as an hilarious "fine-master" and raising over £500 for children's

charities in the process.

About 40 national sales managers, almost all with gaudy buttonholes as prescribed, met for the now- traditional hooley at the Freemasons Arms in Covent Garden in London. Shepherd Neame bought the hostelry from Greene King quite recently and it more than lived up to its billing as the company's Pub of the Year.

Sheps and Wadworth jointly hosted the bash, and Fred West of Wadworth and Roger Harrison of Sheps maintained a just-about-acceptable level of order with some splendid gavel bashing. They conducted the Happy Birthday singing for Beverley Lazarides of Fullers with aplomb.

Guest speaker Phil Dixon amused and impressed the audience with tales of yore, including his appearances on University Challenge when it was screened in black and white. His digs at contemporary pubco malpractice were cunningly passed off as Snifter's views.

But the real pièce de résistance was Stuart Bateman's picking of 40 pockets, as he proceeded round the room with highly bespoke questioning of each guest. Failure to answer correctly resulted in a fine that each was more than happy to pay.

Roger Clayson of Adnams was there - even though the event clashed with the Punch Christmas lunch. Ever the professional, he slipped away after lunch to join them for his second Christmas dinner of the day.

Others caroused a little longer, including a group of northern brewers who failed to make it home and crashed at Loughborough.

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