Meet the GBPA Pub Heroes finalists - Charity Champion

By Ed Bedington contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Pubs are well known for their support of charities, raising many millions of pounds a year, and while lockdown might have threatened their businesses, many operators continued to champion those charitable causes.

The Great British Pub Awards Pub Heroes 2020 aims to recognise those pubs that despite all the challenges, continued to work hard for those charities and communities they served.

The Charity Champion category saw a huge amount of entries from all across the UK and judges had a really tough job to whittle down the shortlist.

However, we’ve highlighted six great contenders from a very strong field of pubs for you to vote for your winner.


The six shortlisted pubs are:

Packhorse Inn, Moulton, Newmarket

Their story:

Following the sudden closure of the Packhorse Inn back in March, the team and the chefs found themselves missing the team morale and the buzz of a busy restaurant.

Finding inspiration from all of the amazing initiatives that were springing up around the UK they decided to embark on a fundraising mission and raise money to help fund free meals for people in need.

A go fund me page was set up and started by using the pubs marketing channels to help raise money to fund the free meals initiative, contacting regular customers and suppliers. The initial aim was to raise £10,000, to fund 4,000 free meals.

The initiative was called ‘Giving Tree’ and in just 2 days had raised over £5,000. The cause soon gathered momentum and the media, local radio and regional TV covering the story. With the help of the extra awareness, fundraising efforts exploded helping reach the £10,000 target and attract requests for free meals from local staff who worked at hospitals and care homes in the area and other communities in need in and around East Anglia.

In took only 3 weeks to reach the initial target, so they doubled it, with the aim of raising £20,000, which equates to 8,000 meals. Due to limited space or resource for the demand, they opened another 3 kitchens at pubs within The Chestnut Group to support the efforts.

Since starting the free meals initiative in April the team of volunteers have raised over £50,000, cooked and delivered over 25,000 meals to over 30 beneficiaries in the region.

The Giving Tree has been a very worthwhile project for everybody involved and has now been made a Community Interest Company, an important and charitable part of the business going forward.

The Pig & Whistle at Healing Manor, Grimsby

Their story:

On closing the doors to the pub and hotel on March 22nd, like many others, The Pig & Whistle has been fighting to survive. Steven and Charlotte quickly made the decision to house a small team on site to isolate together – a move which has allowed them to operate a take-away service and accommodate a small number of key workers, as well as raising a staggering amount of money via their Go Fund Me Campaign, to support those in need, locally. 

After being contacted by their local hospice in crisis, because their staff, mostly volunteers where having to shield isolate, and being conscious of the lack of continued (pre-COVID) support The Pig & Whistle could provide for their chosen charity ‘We Are one Foundation’, owners Steven and Charlotte knew they had to do something.

On a personal note, there was a huge chance that Charlotte’s father, who was given a short amount of time left to live at the beginning of lockdown might need to seek end of life care at St Andrews Hospice. This duo and their small team of 5 (normally 50), put together a fund-raising plan to ensure they could purchase the raw ingredients to produce daily hot meals for St Andrews and the local homeless.

After a successful social media campaign and with the invaluable help of individual donations, contributions from large companies and local independent businesses owners alike, the total amount raised has surpassed their original goal to reach £23,000, £13,000 more than they had set out to raise. A huge helping hand was provided in the way of a £10,000 donation from Stallingborough-based Tronox.

The £23,000 raised has provided:

• 30 meals a day for St Andrew’s Hospice over the last four weeks to feed their patients receiving end of life care.

• More than 1,000 care packages to the We Are One Foundation, with the assistance of Dairy Lincs.

• More than 200 meals each week to the We Are One Foundation.

• More than 1500 loaves of bread for the local village.

• More than 1,500 meals to key workers including those at Care Plus Group, the police, NHS and charity workers.

• More than 1,000 meals safely delivered via Healing Manor’s #NominateYourNeighbour campaign.

• The Health Tree Foundation with toiletries and essentials for patients at Grimsby Hospital


The Portsmouth Arms, Basingstoke

Their story:

On receiving the news of pubs lockdown, Richard Curtis, General Manager of the Portsmouth Arms in Basingstoke, questioned how he could put his time to best use? how could he provide his usual guests the pub experience whilst there was no pub? Most importantly, how could he still raise money for charity with no one in the pub?

Richard soon decided that a daily Facebook live pub quiz streamed from inside the pub would be the answer. The first quiz was launched two days after the pub’s doors closed, and the interest was mind-blowing, welcoming 300 people to the first ‘trial’ version of the quiz. Each entrant had the choice if they wanted to donate to a local charity in exchange for taking part.

At Hall & Woodhouse family is at the heart of everything the group do, so Richard wanted to replicate that very early on. Following the success of the first quiz an additional children’s quiz was launched, taking place every day at 17:00 and the adults quiz continuing at 20:00. 

Richard’s nine-year-old son, Oliver, co-hosted the children’s quiz and received plaudits about how the quiz encouraged interactive family time for many of their guests during lockdown.

In May Richard decided to take on a bigger challenge and broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest marathon as a quiz master. Following a 34-hour and 11-minute virtual quiz, Richard raised more than £23,000 for The Pink Place Cancer Charity in Basingstoke. He has since received recognition for his charity work during the pandemic by picking up a COVID-19 Hero Award from Destination Basingstoke after being nominated by the community.

To date the quizzes have supported 12 charities including St. Michael’s Hospice, Basingstoke Foodbank and Hampshire Medical Fund. To date, the quizzes have raised more than £47,000 and have passed 1,000,000 viewers, with Richard volunteering over 660 hours since lockdown began.

The Victoria Inn, Chichester

Their story:

On March 18, 2020 Donna Morgan, one of the publican-duo that ran The Victoria Inn was taken to St Richard’s Hospital suffering from COVID-19. She was taken to the ITU where she would become the hospital’s longest standing coronavirus patient, remaining in its care for 95 days. Over the course of this period, her husband Toby raised an incredible £110,000 for the hospital and the NHS.

Touched by the care his wife received, Toby’s fundraising achievement started small, he simply wanted to know how he could give something back to the NHS staff who looked after Donna day and night. Each time he rang the ward he took the name of the nurse that he spoke to, writing it on a whiteboard, he soon had 60 nurses on his list that he was determined to show his gratitude to.

His first contribution was coffee. With the help of friends who all clubbed together, Toby donated six coffee machines and 4,000 pods to the hospital. Refusing to go on furlough leave, Toby started up a takeaway Fish and Chips enterprise at the pub and began turning over nearly 200 covers a week to support himself as his fundraising efforts began in earnest.

Next, Toby moved on to goodie bags, collecting items to fill them with his friends and family, he not only gave one to every member of staff at St Richard’s Hospital but the 400 paramedics that work across other healthcare sites locally. This then escalated to hand sanitiser with Toby donating £20,000 worth to hospitals across West Sussex and Hampshire.

News of Toby’s efforts travelled fast, and people further afield began to help. From cycling, running and walking to raise money, to flybys and drive-bys, donations poured in.

As the fundraising initiative snowballed, Toby began focussing on setting up a support network for people associated with the ITU, including patients and staff and their families. His aim is to install a service in intensive care wards across the country that offer counselling, practical and emotional support, as well as legal and financial advice. He continues to work towards this goal today.

Donna was released from St Richard’s Hospital on her 53rd birthday to resounding claps and cheers from hospital staff and family and friends who had come to see her. Her recovery will be a long one, but Toby is dedicated to getting her through it while continuing to support the hospital that saved her life, as well as the wider NHS.

Sadly, Toby and Donna have now left the Victoria Inn to focus on Donna’s rehabilitation, but Toby’s hard work continues to be felt at St Richard’s Hospital and they will be remembered by countless loyal customers at the Victoria Inn.

The Grange Hotel, Wirral

Their story:

During lockdown, The Grange realised an opportunity to move in a hot jiffy van into their car park offering breakfast boxes on Saturday mornings and roast dinner's on Sunday lunchtime's, as a pay as you feel scheme simply asking for a donation. Through this they raised a whopping £6,500, which has gone back into Neo Community and Gautby road play and community centre, to help with their summer provisions, feeding children during the school holidays who would normally have a school meal.

During Summer provisions they’re delivering 190 hot meals a day consisting of fish and chips, pasta and meatballs, pizza's, chicken wraps, and a roast dinner are all going out to Gautby Road from the Grange Hotel kitchen along with 190 packed lunches. These efforts helped feed 380 children per day, which is every child who is registered at the centre.

Neo Community supports a large area of the Wirral through local schools and local communities with food and household items, delivering 208 family sized meals consisting of Chicken curry, rice and naan bread, chicken fajitas, wraps and all the side, chicken pasta bake and garlic bread, and cowboy pie.

The Grange also sent out 120 children meals to Eastway primary school on a Thursday lunchtime for the children while partaking in the Summer activities. In addition, they provided 120 family meals to family matters group also set up by Neo Community.

Watermead Inn, Aylesbury

Their story: 

Kelvin Wong, manager of the Watermead Inn, was already helping the shielded and those in need before Lockdown had started. As the shelves emptied when people started stock piling, he was able to obtain essential items such as toilet rolls from existing suppliers and then donated to those in need. Not stopping there, Kelvin set up a scheme where he cooked meals for families who were shielding during lockdown, in need or key workers for five days from the stock that was left in the kitchen. 

The Watermead Inn reached out to find these families on social media and through leaflet drops through doors asking people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours who might not have seen the communication. This initially started with 40 families and quickly rose to over 100. 

Following this, The Watermead Inn then set up a fund for residents to donate, which has raised over £5000. The pub was then turned in to a hub for food donations with volunteers collecting from houses each week and sorting and donating enough food to the over 100 families to last for seven days at a time.

Some local families were in such need that they were feeding their children and not themselves, and others had not been out for weeks and were extremely vulnerable. The Watermead Inn decided as extra help to shop for elderly and vulnerable residents, delivering vital items to their doors. 

Not confined to residents, Kelvin and the team also cooked and delivered meals to the staff of the local hospital, Stoke Mandeville, to keep them fuelled during the crisis.

Over two weekends The Watermead Inn's outside trailer was used to give beer to locals as an incentive to keep people at home during the first hot weekend of the year. The 1600 pints were delivered to residents houses and caused so much interest that it was picked up and covered national press and even the BBC World Service.


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Related topics: Events & Occasions

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