Throughout December, 180 Star Pubs & Bars sites – Heineken’s pub arm – will host pub lunches and festive get-togethers for thousands of people.
Through Brewing Good Cheer, the brewing giant wants to celebrate and raise awareness of the important role pubs play in bringing communities together.
Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford surprised guests from a community food bank based at St Saviour’s Sunbury church and care home charity Langley Haven by dressing up as Santa and Mrs Claus to host a pub lunch for both charities at the Star site the Red Lion in Shepperton, Surrey.
St Saviour’s Sunbury spokesman Tina Baker said: “Being involved in a day like this is amazing. To be able to sit and talk, and enjoy great food and drink is a real treat, as we don’t normally get to do this in our day-to-day work.
“As carers, it can be very emotional, so being able to enjoy a meal together with the residents at such an important time of the year is really important to our wellbeing.
“And to have Eamonn and Ruth here, well, that’s the icing on the cake.”
Force for good
John Longden, chief executive of not-for-profit community organisation Pub is the Hub, said: “Brewing Good Cheer is a real force for good. Festive events in pubs are a great way for neighbours and local people to meet up who may not get the chance to socialise very often.
“This type of activity will make a difference to many people especially those living in rural communities where there are fewer events and fewer communal venues for people to socialise in.”
One pub that is also taking part in the Brewing Good Cheer campaign is the Butlers Arms, Pleasington, Lancashire. In 2017, Mike Hales and his staff hosted their first Brewing Good Cheer Christmas lunch for men with learning difficulties and mental health issues in association with charity Creative Support.
Hales was determined not to turn anyone away, and so a lunch originally planned for 20 people grew into one for 60, which he was more than happy to fund.
On the back of the lunch a charity football team was formed called Blokes United, which the pub supports. The men meet twice a week to play football followed by conversation and free food and drink at the Butlers Arms.
Hales said: “It’s important to give back. Having a pub means we have the tools to help people turnaround their lives.
“In our case, it has helped guys going through relationship problems and stopped those who are suicidal.”
In recognition of Hales’s support for Blokes United, he was invited to the Houses of Parliament to share details of its success with MPs in the hope it could be spread across the country.
This year, Hales and his team will be hosting Brewing Good Cheer mince pie and coffee events at all three of his pubs: the Butlers Arms; the Top Lock, Chorley, Lancashire; and the Railway, Bromley Cross, Greater Manchester; in collaboration with drug addiction charity T Force and Blokes United.
Hales added: “I am a great fan of Brewing Good Cheer. I believe it is really important to support vulnerable people locally. It’s the best thing you can do in the community.”