One of the visions we had when we opened The Bevy was that it would feel like a front room; somewhere you felt immediately welcome when you walked thru the door. Our first ever garden fayre was the perfect example of how we are achieving that. From 3 to 83 years old, people mingled, tasted free nibbles and cake, carved pumpkins and enjoyed the banter. One older resident apologised for arriving early, saying otherwise she would just be sitting at home on her own. The old guys that populate the bar in the day raised nearly £200 through raffles and cake sales to make sure older residents would be able to afford Christmas dinner at the Bevy.
One lad with learning disabilities had a stroke recently and has lost most of his sight. He has been welcomed as part of the last of the summer-wine-club and one of the builders swapped numbers in case he ever needed a lift to the pub. It might not seem much, but those little acts of kindness, strengthen our communities and make them much better places for everyone.
We live in a society that is increasingly isolated, where old people are left to rot and people live in fear of crime. We know that what we do will be needed more and more as community spaces are lost to property vultures, greedy pubcos and a tsunami of council cuts.
We have already shown that we are more than just a pub with 40 groups using the Bevy since we opened last December – everything from felt making to history groups to health MOTs, WI knit and natter, our monthly repair cafe, weekly senior tea club, community choir, running club, Spiral disability group, men and women darts teams, the list goes on. We’ve also held our first wedding where at one point there were 11 vicars in the house!
It’s not all been plain sailing, like any new business we have suffered from cash flow problems, building problems, personnel problems. When we do get it wrong we get it in the ear, but we have a suggestions box, and actually most of the people complaining do so because they want the Bevy to work as well. It’s their pub.
Now open for 9 months, i’ve met as many people on my estate in those nine months as I have in last nine years. You can also never quite know who’s going to be in the pub with so many different activities happening.
Getting the Bevy up and running has been like turning round a tanker, but we reckon we have a blueprint of how we can stop the tide of 29 pubs closing a week by making them more than just pubs. We have spoken to campaigners wanting to re-open the The Rosehill, The Cuthbert and Lecturn pubs as community spaces and I have met with other community pub campaigners that are springing up all around the country.
We aren’t out of the woods yet and still want people to become shareholders for as little as £10 (or more if you can afford it – the perfect Christmas present for the person who has everything) We understand not everyone has money to spare, but you can also support us just by popping in for a pint or a coffee, a meal or booking the Bevy for meetings and parties.
When you boil it all down, its about knowing your neighbours and creating jobs, wealth and opportunities that will make Moulsecoomb and Bevendean better places for us all to live and work. Surely that’s something to raise a glass to?