Pubs and Me – A #notjustapub reflection from our Managing Director
I will never forget the evening spent in our local pub when we discovered that one of our friends had died. How that pub became a beacon of togetherness for us, the way it became central to our collective grief. Having borne witness to some of our dearest memories and wildest evenings, that pub was now holding us in its familiar arms as we grieved the passing of one of its regulars, our friend. I vividly remember the barman, whom we had all come to know well, leaving a pint of our departed friend's favourite beer on the bar as a mark of respect. And the days and weeks we came together in that same place afterward, to be in a familiar place, feel included, and grieve collectively. That pub, in a moment, became a symbol of our togetherness, and its community spirit, sense of belonging and attentive staff provided a lighthouse in our hours of darkness.
Fast forward nearly twenty years, and I still think of that pub with gratitude, and I also think about all the other substantial life events I have experienced that have taken shape in pubs along the way.
The 'first dates,' the 'wetting of the baby's head,' the weddings and wakes – and all in between. I remember that these institutions have been integral to many of our lives, for better or worse. A stalwart of the community that bent with the changing times adapted to a changing demographic and embraced technological advances – but always remained central to our daily lives.
I think about my new local pub, how it became a quasi-distribution centre during Covid, how it opened its doors when we had massive flooding in the village to welcome those displaced and offer warm drinks and hand out water. I think about how it delivers food on a Sunday to the elderly, that I know it's a failsafe place to get a dish of water and a couple of dog treats for my puppy when we have walked further than expected and need a break
Most recently, I have been using pubs as a place for meetings and a place to work – knowing that a coffee, a smiling face, and a break from the same four walls will be served alongside a cheeky after-work Friday tipple. When I consider the part pubs have played in my life alone, I was pretty taken aback by the significant memories, milestones, and life events that the pub has been integral to – and I hope they will be for many years to come.
As someone who now earns a living supporting the recruitment of our pubs' future tenants, I wanted to share these personal insights as I support our industry in some of its most challenging trading days in recent history. Having seen the strength and determination of our pub's tenants and operators over the last three turbulent years, we must support now and continue to support these valuable institutions as they struggle to navigate the rising costs and rates they currently face.
#notjustapub is an initiative amplified by the BII and broader industry to ensure that the message gets through to today's government that we need their support to protect the publicans of tomorrow.
We are calling on the chancellor to:
- Reduce VAT for the sector to 10% across all areas, including alcohol, to ensure all types of pub businesses can benefit
- Cancel Business Rates for all pubs for the rest of this financial year to allow their recovery to begin
By sharing our own stories, recollections, and memories like this, we are profoundly etching the importance of pubs to our communities, lives, and wider economy into decision-maker minds.
To offer support and help us in this plight, visit: https://www.bii.org/BII/Campaigns/not-just-a-pub.aspx.
Image Credit: Photo by cottonbro: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photograph-of-a-group-of-friends-holding-their-drinks-5530167/