Say it with Pizza! Thank-you food and community meals as Toggle goes free

March 2020

Everything from thank-you meals for key workers to food deliveries to isolated friends and family can now be bought online, as gift card platform Toggle makes its service free for the duration of the coronavirus lockdown.

Toggle has already been used to set up a free pizza delivery service for NHS workers in London, while restaurants and pubs switching to takeaway operations are setting up gift cards allowing users to ‘Pay it Forward’ for meals and groceries for those needing them.

Any business can now access Toggle at to quickly set up a bespoke, branded gift card webshop free of charge. Users can be up and running in around 30 minutes, making gift cards available for customers to buy online and send to recipients by email.

The specialist team which operates the system will also provide any technical support needed free of charge.

● London pizza restaurant Crust Bros has set up a gift card using Toggle called ‘NHS: Pay It Forward’. The cards, available in £10 denominations, send pizzas to health workers at locations including Guys and St Thomas’ hospitals, as well as the London Ambulance Service. Every £10 is topped up by 20% by the restaurant. More than 120 pizzas were sent in the first day and a total of 229 over the weekend.

● At the Wiremill pub in East Grinstead, Surrey, operator Yummy Pubs has set up a £10 gift card which sends a meal to someone self-isolating due to the virus. Yummy Pubs director Tim Foster said: “People can nominate their family or friends, and we’re also asking the community to tell us where meals are needed – for example, we have an 89-year-old self-isolating lady living near the pub who has no family. We’re providing gastropub quality meals which our staff have volunteered to deliver – we’re making no money but we’re keeping the pub going.”

Airship CEO Dan Brookman said: “These are unprecedented times. Many people want to support businesses during the crisis, and equally many of those businesses are going all-out to support their local communities.

“We’re making Toggle free for the duration of the shutdown, however long it lasts, to help ensure that there’s a thriving hospitality sector when we come out the other side, and we’re using the #FutureFit hashtag to promote all the activity.

“We’ve already had more than 40 new businesses sign up, and there’s an impressive range of initiatives, with people not just supporting their friends and families, but key workers and the wider community. We’re also making whatever technical and marketing support is needed available to users to maximise the benefits.”

Businesses signing up in recent days include Busaba, Bear Coffee, Urban Pubs and Bars and Middletons Steak Houses.

Caption to attached image: Staff at St Thomas’ Hospital, London were sent free pizza paid for using Toggle gift cards by customers of Crust Bros pizza restaurant.

Charities and grassroots sports could lose £35million in lockdown

March 2020

Pubs rally to support communities in pandemic

The nation’s 12-week lockdown could cost charities and grassroots sports an estimated £35 million in funds raised by pubs, according to PubAid, the group dedicated to promoting pubs as a force for good in their communities.

However, hundreds of pubs, who have seen a drastic fall in trade since the Covid-19 outbreak, are actively increasing support for their communities, helping local residents who are unable to leave their homes.  Many have adapted their menus to takeaway or delivery, with a number providing free meals to local pensioners, others setting up village shops to serve those unable to travel, and generally acting as a hub to co-ordinate community efforts to support vulnerable residents.

Just as importantly, many are looking for ways to offer local people some of the social and emotional benefits they gain from a visit to the pub. A number have set up helplines to offer local housebound people a much-needed social interaction, others have organised on-line pub quizzes.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Clearly, traditional fundraising through events in pubs will have to stop in line with Government advice to avoid social contact. With pubs raising £100m a year for charities and £40m to grassroots sports, a three-month lockdown will equate to a £35 million shortfall.

“Despite the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic for pubs, many have responded by doing all they can to support customers and local residents and remain a hub for their community in this time of need.  Pubs have survived for hundreds of years by adapting to the changing world around them, and the speed with which so many have changed their business practices in the face of the Covid-19 lockdown is impressive.

“We are only at the beginning of this very difficult time, but we are confident that pubs will continue to help people to come through it, offering practical, social and emotional support.  Pub doors may be shutting, but pubs will find a way to remain a force for good in their local communities. “

Pubs at the heart of communities

Pubs raise £100m every year for hundreds of charities and worthy causes

PubAid’s World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, held every March, has raised £750,000 for charities since its launch in 2016. The 2020 Quiz figures are not included in this, with around 1,700 pubs thought to have taken part.

In 2019, PubAid carried out research into pubs and grassroots sport, revealing that pubs provide £40m in funding and in-kind support (free room hire, after-match food and drink), for local sports clubs

The PubAid Charity Pub of the Year Awards reward pubs for their charity and community support. The 2019 winner, the Rose of Mossley in Liverpool, has raised an estimated £250,000 in 30 years, as well as offering hands-on help to individuals in need in the community.

Pubs’ response to pandemic

  • The Chequers in Aylesford, Kent, is delivering free hot lunches and dinners to anyone over the age of 70 within the village or nearby.
  • The Fleece Inn, Brereton near Evesham is running a ‘loneliness buster’ helpline, as well as offering local meal deliveries.
  • The Polgooth Inn in St Austell ran its regular Pub Quiz on 17 March on Facebook Live
  • The Heritage in Slaugham, West Sussex, is looking to set up a village shop, to help local residents avoid trips to supermarkets and give local food and drink suppliers a new outlet.
  • Ye Old Sun Inn in Colton, North Yorkshire, is baking fresh bread, pies and cakes daily, selling them from a stall outside the pub as well as delivering orders to local residents unable to get out.
  • The Pickled Ploughman in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, is delivering free hot meals to local vulnerable people and to others who are self-isolating on a BOGOF deal. It also has a stall outside the pub selling fresh fruit and veg, dairy and dried goods.
  • The Loyal Tavern is Bermondsey, South London, is turning its restaurant into a grocery store and deli and will also be donating grocery boxes to the elderly.
  • The Tap & Run in Upper Broughton, Melton Mowbray is opening a village shop to sell groceries and pre-prepared meals to cook at home. A delivery service will be free to over 70s and NHS workers.
  • Customers are also doing their bit to support pubs. A regular at The Lugger in Polruan, Cornwall, loaded £2,000 onto a loyalty card to use in the pub this summer.


Bidfresh launches direct-to-consumer home delivery

March 2020

Fresh food supplier Bidfresh is adding direct-to-consumer home delivery services from its depots around the UK in response to the national measures introduced to address the coronavirus outbreak.

The public will be able to order meat, fish and seafood, fruit and veg, dairy and a range of other products. The free delivery service will operate in selected postcodes around the depots, and will run alongside Bidfresh’s established business with chef and caterers.

Home delivery has already been launched this week from Oliver Kay in Bolton, R Noone in Manchester, Knight Meats in Essex, and Henson in London, and is being rapidly added at other sites within the Bidfresh group.

Jane Aukim, marketing manager of Bidfresh said: “We are continuing to take orders from customers in the foodservice sector, but the current situation means many of them need less produce or are closing altogether, resulting in cancelled orders.

“At the same time, there’s clearly a need for consumers to be able to access fresh food. Offering home delivery alongside our established business will hopefully ensure that as much of the food as possible in our supply chain is being used.”

The products available will vary from depot to depot, reflecting the specialist nature of Bidfresh’s network of businesses. Delivery will be fulfilled by the business through its own drivers and couriers, and is being promoted through social media.

Drive Through for Fresh Beer at Hogs Back Brewery

March 2020

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is finding new ways to keep its beers flowing to customers through the coronavirus ‘lockdown’, as people heed Government advice to stay away from pubs and bars and work from home.

The brewery, in Tongham near Farnham, has introduced a new Drive Through service for its draught, bottled and canned beers, including its flagship TEA, Hogstar lager and Surrey Nirvana Session IPA. Customers simply drive up to the Brewery Shop, place their order – from a safe distance – and the beer is loaded into their boot by shop staff, without needing to leave their car.

Customers can also ‘click and collect’ by going online to with orders ready for collection after 10.00 am the next day, and for those waiting for orders, beer will be served to socially-distanced tables in the open canopy area.

For customers unable to leave home, Hogs Back will home-deliver orders within a 15-mile radius of the brewery, and further afield for orders of £40 or more. The Brewery Shop remains open for business, with new social distancing measures in place and closure on Mondays to allow for deep cleaning.

While Brewery Tours have been put on hold, the Hogs Back hop garden next to the brewery is open to selected visitors, and hop growth unaffected by Covid-19. Members of the Tongham Tea Club loyalty club and other customers will be invited to the garden in the coming months to enjoy some fresh air and, with suitable distancing, help trim and train the young hop plants.

Hogs Back Brewery owner Rupert Thompson said: “One of the benefits of being a small brewer is that we can act quickly. We launched our Drive Through service the day after the Government’s announcement on social distancing, and if their advice changes again, we will adapt our practices. The safety of our customers and staff is paramount.

“We are of course unhappy that pubs look set to be a casualty of the pandemic when they are often an important community hub and an effective antidote to social isolation. We hope that the many pubs stocking our TEA and other beers will be open again to customers just as soon there is a safe way for them to do so.

“In the meantime, we’re delighted with the response from our customers, who have embraced the Drive Through and home delivery options to enjoy their favourite Hogs Back beers during these difficult times. Twelve weeks of lockdown will surely seem even longer without a glass of locally-brewed beer now and again!”

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