Raising a family while being a publican

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

A brighter future: Rebecca Hamilton with son Henry, whose life has changed around since he went to LVS Ascot school
A brighter future: Rebecca Hamilton with son Henry, whose life has changed around since he went to LVS Ascot school

Related tags: Licensed trade charity

“My son was just in the wrong situation, the wrong environment, the wrong friendship group and this all conspired against him to make a very bad situation... ”

Henry Hamilton, 18, from Kent, whose father, Richard, runs a Slug & Lettuce pub, joined LVS Ascot in September 2016 after going on a “downward spiral”.

Henry’s mum, Rebecca Hamilton said: “There was no one to blame, but I could feel it in my stomach that he wasn’t happy. It was horrible. 

“But I told my husband about this school that was part of his trade charity – he didn’t even know such a school existed. But once we visited it with our son – it was just a no-brainer really.”

Son had suffered

Rebecca told The Morning Advertiser​ the story of how her son had suffered at his previous school for an accumulation of reasons.

She said: “We tried a lot of different tactics. We even considered even holding him back a year, but the school felt he would get bullied.

“He was struggling with academia, he had an unfortunate virus that kept him off for ages, even his sport started to suffer near the end, which he loved.

“He had even lost the ability to speak properly. He could hardly read either. He would get out of breath from reading – like it was harder than running. 

“He just became unhappy and his confidence had gone.

“But one day, Henry and I were at home and I just searched on my laptop ‘sending children to private schools when you can't afford to’ and this LVS school came up.

“It said if you're a member of the pub trade, you can pretty much walk in and get discount on fees. So, I thought, well this is interesting.”

Made for the trade

In 1793, a group of licensees came together to form the Society of Licensed Victuallers (SLV), established for the care of licensees in need and their families.

Their objectives were “raising a fund for the relief of decayed members of the trade, their widows in sickness, old age, want and infirmity, and to afford some assistance to their fatherless children and orphans”.

These publicans worked long hours in unhealthy atmospheres, running pubs, inns and taverns that had poor sanitation.

In 1794, The Morning Advertiser​ was founded by those who set up the SLV – serving the trade today as the Licensed Trade Charity – to endorse the society’s interests and raise money to help fund its charitable activities.

The SLV hoped to raise enough money to purchase a school for orphans from the trade and, by 1803, it opened the school.

A thankless task

Rebecca’s husband, Richard, has worked in the pub trade since university and worked at the Slug & Lettuce at the O2 for 12 years. He is now general manager at the Slug & Lettuce in Canary Wharf.  

Rebecca said: “He works for the pubco, Stonegate, which does a lot of work for the charity.

“My husband is very high on standards despite the constant pressure he gets at work. It’s hard and relentless and he can do up to 100 hours a week.

“We have issues with people stealing, staff not coming in, yet my husband will always step in. It’s like a thankless task – you've just got pressure from everywhere.

“So when we spoke to the Stonegate chairman about Henry going to LVS Ascot, he was so pleased.”

Because of the constant pressure from work on top of the concerns of Henry’s wellbeing, the decision to move Henry to LVS Ascot was even more a relief for Rebecca and Richard.

“Because of how hard my husband works and how loyal he is to his work, if anyone deserved to get into the school, it was Henry – he was a good person for it to happen to,” she continued.

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Henry receives his GCSE results with his dad Richard

A different person

“On his first day, we never looked back – he didn’t even call me for 10 days like he’d forgotten about us,” she continued.

“When he came back after three weeks it was like he did a complete U-turn.”

Henry is now in his third year, studying geography, food technology and physical education at LVS Ascot sixth form.

“Suddenly, he’s the most confident person – he even went to India on his own last year – he now believes he can do anything.

“He is just so excited for his future now. He even just took himself off to go look at Bath University,” she continued.

During his time at LVS Ascot, Henry has become head of the rugby team, head of boarding (which he was nominated through a public vote) and received four As and four Bs in GCSEs when he was only predicted to receive Cs and Ds.

“You wouldn't believe he was the same person. It’s just given us a whole new angle of life and we feel incredibly lucky.”

Related topics: Health & safety

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