Will the real Nigel please stand up?

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

Night of a thousand Nigel's: Nigel Smith celebrating with Nigel's and not Nigel's alike
Night of a thousand Nigel's: Nigel Smith celebrating with Nigel's and not Nigel's alike

Related tags: Worcestershire, Beer, Events, Pubs

Licensee of the Fleece Inn, Worcester, Nigel Smith is on a mission to stop the name Nigel becoming extinct by hosting as many Nigel’s as possible for ‘Nigel Night’ at his pub on 24 September 2022.

Data from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed no baby boys in England and Wales were named Nigel in 2020, and while it is possible there were up to two Nigel’s born last year (ONS doesn’t list names used three times or less for data protection reasons), ​it certainly seems Nigel could be a dying breed without ‘Nigel Night’.       

Smith said: “Peak Nigel was in 1963, there were 5,500 of us that year, representing 1.2% of boys name for the year. In 1840 there was only 1, it is a bit of a long game we are playing really, we might be going out of fashion at the moment but the name’s been around since mediaeval times so it’s got some legs and it’s a nice name.

“Anyone that’s having a baby soon can think about the very good deed they can do by calling their child Nigel or Nigella.”

‘Nigel Night’ was born in 2019 after a chance meeting between Smith and a fellow concerned Nigel wanting to celebrate Nigel-ness, he has since broken the world record for the biggest gathering of Nigel’s with 432 in attendance, and around 1,00 not Nigel’s, at the event in 2019.

Life affirming evening 

Smith was astounded to have so many people there after expecting half a dozen Nigel’s sat round the fire at the pub having a beer.

“We are here to give people enjoyment and pleasure and relaxation, a respite from the vagaries of life. Certainly, on Nigel Night 2019 that was evident in spades, it was a joyful night, people loved it, one Nigel actually said to me it was a life affirming moment.”

While Nigel’s and not Nigel’s alike are encouraged to join in the event, all the Nigel’s will receive VIP treatment.

After providing proof of Nigel status with a form of ID or birth certificate, all event namesakes will receive a free pint, badge, and a certificate.

“We’ve got lots of Nigel based entertainment, there is a performance called Nigel, comedians, and Nigel prizes for instance the youngest Nigel, the oldest Nigel, the Nigel that’s travelled the furthest distance and that sort of thing, there will be some special awards during the day.

While this seems like a big task to undertake, with not only the pressure of saving Nigel from eradication, but hosting 2,000+ on the premises, Smith isn’t worried about the challenge and is not only prepared but excited.

“We know we are going to need additional toilets, additional parking and that sort of thing, additional bars within the grounds.

“Based on our experience it’s pretty straight forward to organise and we’ve got more time to organise everything this time, we only had three weeks last time.

“When planning any event, you’ve got to set out your cost base early on to ensure you make it work, even if it’s just something as straight forward as putting on live music, you’ve got to make sure you get a return on the event weather that’s ticket sales or liquor sales.

The community have all rallied around Nigel Night, with local breweries even making bespoke drinks.

A quintessential Nigel

Purity brewery, based in Alcester, created Mad Nigel, Uley brewery, based in Dursley created Nigale, and North Cotswold Brewery, based in Moreton-on-Marsh created Nigel’s our best.

Nigel’s who can’t make the event need not despair, Smiths ‘book of Nigel’s’ is always on proud display behind the bar and waiting for the next signature, but what makes a quintessential Nigel?

“A name can often define you, there have been 15 Lucifer's this past year, what’s that bout?

“Nigel’s are kind of self-deprecating, like to take the mickey out of themselves, easy going, relatively gentle, open minded people I think, apart from one, which might be in the political sphere, but that’s what makes a quintessential Nigel.”

Related topics: Events & Occasions

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