Brakspear presents final cheque to Mind

March 2020

Over £30,000 raised for mental health charity

Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has presented a cheque for £31,296 to Mind, the leading mental health charity, after a year-long fundraising drive across the company’s 130 pubs.

Brakspear’s pub and head office teams raised money in variety of ways, ranging from the simple but effective collection tin on the bar to events lasting a weekend. In their support for the charity, Brakspear pubs hosted family fun days, golf days, darts challenges, raffles and auctions, Easter Egg hunts, barbecues and more.

There were feats of sporting endeavour and endurance, including a team from Brakspear’s head office completing the Thames Towpath Challenge – a 100km continuous walk from Putney Bridge to Henley, which raised £5,300. As well as events, many pubs raised money regularly by suggesting customers donate money for a carafe of tap water, or adding an optional 50p to a popular menu item.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, “This was our third estate-wide charity partnership and we’re delighted that our pub and head office teams have again risen to the challenge and thrown themselves into fundraising for Mind.

“With one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem in any one year, it’s an issue that affects all of us, on both sides of the bar. We’re very proud to have collected this sum, which will enable Mind to continue its life-changing work.”

Emma Ihsan, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Mind, said: “We are so grateful to Brakspear’s pub and head office teams for supporting Mind over the past year, and are delighted to receive this cheque.

“They have embraced all manner of fundraising activities, from the creative to the physically challenging, and have achieved a fantastic total. The money raised will help us to provide advice, information and support so that no one has to face their mental health problem alone.”

The Unicorn in Kingwood near Henley raised £2,010 for Mind and won Brakspear’s Best Fundraising Pub award. Licensee, Rachel Selman, who runs the pub with mum Alison and brother Dan, said: “Most of the money raised came from our Summer Fayre last May. It was a great community event, with tremendous support from our customers who baked cakes, donated generous items for the raffle and tombola and manned stalls on the day. We also had live music and a barbecue throughout the day.

“Our wonderful customers, friends and family also sponsored me to run the Reading Half Marathon for Mind last year, and money raised at our monthly quiz nights also went to the same great cause.”

“Mind was a charity that everyone was happy to support; mental health is high profile and everyone knows someone who has experienced problems. We were delighted to raise so much for this worthy charity.”

Caption to attached image: l-r Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies with Alison Selman and son Dan of The Unicorn, Kingwood near Henley-on-Thames, who raised £2,010 for Mind

New members for PubAid steering group

March 2020

Pub charity body gears up for expanded activity

PubAid, the organisation dedicated to promoting pubs as a force for good, has welcomed a number of new members to its steering group, as it gears up to expand its activities over the coming months, with a new website in development and increased marketing and PR spend.

The new members are drawn from across the pub industry, from operators to charities and suppliers. They are: Jon Dale, Director of Communications at Ei Group; Stuart Mills, founder of; Katy Moses, founder of KAM Media; Paula Smith, marketing manager at the Licensed Trade Charity; Anne Toms, External and Government Affairs Lead at Budweiser Brewing Group and Greg Sage, Communications Director at Greene King, which became PubAid’s first Patron earlier this year.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “PubAid entered its second decade at the start of the year with a renewed commitment to promote pubs as a force for good in their local communities and society more widely.

“The £100 million raised by pubs for charity every year, and the £40 million of support for grassroots sports, both demonstrate pubs’ ability to do good, but it goes wider than just financial support: pubs also offer practical and emotional help to countless worthy causes and individuals in need and provide a space where people can interact, countering social isolation.

“PubAid has an important job to do in getting these positive messages about pubs more widely recognised. Our new steering group members have the skills, contacts and enthusiasm to help us achieve our ambitious goals for 2020 and beyond, and I’m delighted they have agreed to join us, working alongside Keith Bott, who became our President at the start of the year.”

Paula Smith said: “There is great synergy between PubAid’s work in raising awareness of pubs as a force for good, and the work of the Licensed Trade Charity in helping pub industry people in times of need. I’m delighted to have joined the PubAid steering group and am looking forward to helping them at the start of this exciting new chapter in their development.”

Jon Dale said: “Ei Group has been a big supporter of PubAid and its great initiatives such as the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz and Charity Pub of the Year competition, which help to spread the word about the pivotal role that pubs play in their communities. I’m looking forward to working with other steering group members to ensure that pubs’ contribution to society is more widely recognised by pubgoers, media and policymakers.”

O’Flanagan added, “At the same time as welcoming new members, we have also thanked a few individuals who have moved off the steering group after serving PubAid for a number of years. We are grateful to Nick Bish, James Cuthbertson, Yaser Martini and Tim Page for their contribution to PubAid’s success and know we can count on their continued support for our aims.”

Caption to attached image (back row, l-r): Paul Hegarty, Hon. Secretary, All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group; Murray Roberts, group managing director, Beds and Bars; Tom Stainer, chief executive, CAMRA; Greg Sage, Communications Director, Greene King; Mike Clist, chief executive officer, BII; Jon Dale, Director of Communications, Ei Group, (front row l-r): Paula Smith, marketing manager at the Licensed Trade Charity; Des O’Flanagan, co-founder of PubAid; Anne Toms, External and Government Affairs Lead at Budweiser Brewing Group

Cotswolds purchase takes Brakspear managed estate to 16

March 2020

Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has purchased the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth, near Stroud. The historic pub with dining, accommodation and a thriving wedding and functions business takes Brakspear’s managed estate up to 16 sites.

A converted mill, the site dates back to the 16th century, and the restaurant overlooks the river running through the grounds. Each of the 32 bedrooms has been individually designed and the site can cater for weddings and celebrations for up to 150 guests.

The site has been owned for the last 100 years by the Webb family, who were keen to sell their business to another family-run company. Brakspear has no immediate plans to make any changes to the Egypt Mill and is retaining the current staff team, who have contributed to the site’s success.

Tom Davies, Brakspear chief executive, said: “The Egypt Mill oozes character throughout the building and grounds and we are thrilled to be adding it to our managed estate.

“The site gives us a second wedding and functions business in the Cotswolds, which we have offered at the Frogmill near Cheltenham since 2018. Our learnings from there will help us to develop the already successful business at the Egypt Mill and we’re confident the two together will create a very strong offer for anyone wanting to wed or celebrate in the region.

“It’s not just about functions though; the Egypt Mill has an excellent reputation for its food and is a popular weekend break destination with its quirky but luxurious bedrooms. We’re excited about the potential offered by this exceptional site.”

Brakspear’s managed estate was formed in 2013 with the opening of the Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames and includes pubs across the Cotswolds and south east, many of them with luxury accommodation.

Digging for victory: Finalists Announced in Oliver Kay Produce Vegan Dish recipe competition

March 2020

Three chefs have been shortlisted as finalists in the Oliver Kay National Vegan Dish of the Year 2020, and will now cook off their recipes for a panel of industry judges to decide the overall winner.

Running for the first time in 2020, the competition organised by fresh fruit and veg specialist Oliver Kay Produce challenged chefs to create a new dish to appeal to the growing number of vegan customers eating out. It aims to find recipes with a strong appeal to customers looking for enticing vegan dishes, as well as to inspire hospitality businesses to create profitable vegan menus.

The three finalists are:

• John Boddice, head chef at Roccos Italian kitchen, Tickhill, Doncaster, part of a small group of family run independent Italian restaurants. His shortlisted dish is Wild Nettle Agnolotti. A chef for 22 years, John is a passionate gardener and his recipe uses ingredients grown in his garden. He says: “I love the super seasonality of the dish, which uses produce grown in my garden. It is a full, flavour-packed dish.”

• Sunil Varma, a head chef with contract caterers Bartlett Mitchell in London. His shortlisted dish is Broccoli Shank with Black Beans and Ginger. Sunil has been a chef for 24 years, and is also a DJ. He says: “I like the playfulness of the dish, it is fun and draws flavours from a naturally vegan cuisine.”

• Yuhan Li, a Level 3 student in his final year at Westminster Kingsway College who also works part-time at Japanese restaurant Koya City in London. His shortlisted dish is Deconstructed Cauliflower. He says: “I like the sustainability of this dish, as there is no waste with all parts of the cauliflower used. It is full of different textures and flavours. I enjoy devising vegan dishes as it really challenges your creativity.”

Jane Aukim, marketing manager for Oliver Kay Produce says: “We had some great entries for the competition, and it was a tough process to narrow it down to our three finalists. It will be very interesting to see them put through their paces at the final.”

The shortlisted finalists will now prepare, cook and serve their recipe for the judges at the cook-off final, to be held at Oliver Kay Produce’s development kitchen in Bolton, on Monday 30 March. The final will also include a short Mystery Box challenge inviting entrants to prepare and serve a starter or dessert from a selection of fresh produce provided by Oliver Kay.

Confirmed judges include:
• Adam Leavy: Semi-finalist in MasterChef the Professionals 2013, and head chef at Alvarium in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which specialises in vegan small plates;
• Tony Naylor: Food and drink columnist and feature writer for The Guardian, BBC Good Food. and other titles;
• Day Radley: International professional chef, food writer and founder of The Vegan Chef School in London.

The prize on offer to the overall winner incudes a UK city break for two, including a dinner booking at a leading vegan restaurant. the shortlisted recipes, credited to their creators, will be featured in a national marketing campaign.

Finalists will receive a hamper of products from the Plant Based Collection, a new range of premium vegan ingredients available through Oliver Kay Produce. For more details see

Black Out: UK launch for Scapegrace Black Gin

March 2020

Scapegrace Black, a naturally black gin from New Zealand, is being launched in the UK, joining Scapegrace Classic and Scapegrace Gold in the portfolio distributed by Hi-Spirits.

The latest premium gin from the award-winning Scapegrace distillery in New Zealand, Scapegrace Black uses a unique collection of natural extracts to achieve its deep black colour, which strikingly changes to shades of red and purple when mixed with tonic.

The natural botanicals include aronia berry, as well as saffron, pineapple, butterfly pea and sweet potato. Each of the extracts is distilled at precise temperatures in a defined sequence in order to create the unique black colour.

On the palate the black gin is full-bodied, with a menthol like crispness, which is naturally chilling and fresh with a hint of spice. The finish is long-serving, with naturally candied, tropical yet earthy flavours.

Just six months after its launch in September 2019, Scapegrace Black has become New Zealand’s fastest growing gin SKU and is the second best-selling flavoured gin in the market.
Hi-Spirits is focusing on premium bars as the core market for Scapegrace Black, with its unique visual appeal and distinctive flavour bringing a new dimension to cocktails and mixed drinks.

Poppy Croft, Hi-Spirits marketing manager, says “we’re delighted to be bringing Scapegrace Black to the UK after its successful launch in New Zealand last year. Scapegrace has always challenged perceptions of gin, and Scapegrace Black offers gin lovers something genuinely different on the back bar.

“As well as its unique, complex flavour, the burst of colour when the black gin is mixed with tonic makes it a memorable serve for customers.”

Scapegrace Black has an ABV of 41.6%, with an RRP of £35 for a 70cl bottle. It will be available in the UK from April.

Scapegrace is distilled using spring water sourced from New Zealand’s Southern Alps, and in 2018 was awarded the best London Dry Gin in the World at the prestigious London International Wine & Spirits competition.

Scapegrace is a traditional word for a rogue, and the brand celebrates gin’s sometimes murky history with its black-tinted bottle, which has a shape based on an antique genever bottle.

Alongside Scapegrace Black is Scapegrace Classic, a 42.2% ABV complex, artisan dry gin which combines classic juniper, lemon and orange notes with subtler floral and spice undertones. Scapegrace Gold is a 57% ABV Navy-strength gin with a unique thee layers of citrus including the introduction of tangerine.

The signature serve for Scapegrace Black is:
• 45ml Scapegrace Black
• Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic
• Two slices of Granny Smith apple to garnish
Method: Fill glass with ice, add Scapegrace Black and top with Tonic Water. Garnish with the two apple slices.

For more information, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email or see The full Hi-Spirits portfolio is online at


Drinkaware launches new campaign against drink-driving

March 2020

Free ‘Home and dry’ POS offered to all on-trade operators

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware is launching a new campaign against drink-driving, called Home and dry. The campaign will support pubs, clubs and bars to encourage customers in their venues to stay alcohol-free when driving.

Drinkaware is providing Home and dry point-of-sale (POS) materials free of charge to any UK pub operators who wish to use them. The materials include T-shirts for staff members, posters, beer mats and bar runners, which all feature an eye-catching road sign design. Operators can also download a suite of digital assets to communicate the Home and dry campaign across social media channels.

Home and dry has been developed after feedback from on-trade operators and independent pubs and bars and is supported by The British Beer & Pub Association and the Department for Transport’s THINK! initiative.

The campaign is designed to support venues to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all customers by encouraging drivers to go alcohol-free and get home safe. Home and dry POS and digital assets can be downloaded or ordered free of charge from the Drinkaware online store.

Mark Chandler, Director of Marketing & Partnerships Activation at Drinkaware said: “We’re delighted to be launching Home and dry, a campaign that has wide support from operators as an effective way of helping them to raise awareness of the risks of drinking and driving.

“The campaign’s message is a positive one about encouraging people to choose alcohol-free drinks options if they are driving.

“Encouraging customers to go alcohol-free is easy in today’s on-trade, where the choice of alcohol alternatives has never been better. Drivers can enjoy a wide range of alcohol-free beers, ciders, wines or spirits, and get home safe at the end of the night.”

For more information visit:

Department of Transport drink drive statistics

The Department of Transport’s provisional estimates for 2018 show that between 220 and 270 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit, with a central estimate of 240 deaths. Final estimates for 2018 will be published in August this year.