Campaign for Real Ale

Gala Presentation Evening a success!

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Thirty five years of being a pub licensee – that’s outstanding. That pub’s innovative expansion and investment in their future – that’s really noteworthy. That volunteer’s dedication of time and effort to the CAMRA cause – that needs celebrating. The number of years the owners of that pub have had it mothballed – that needs publicising.

In 2015 the Reading & Mid Berks Branch of CAMRA decided to expand their certificate presentations from the usual Pub / Club of the Year winners and runners up, to recognise a wider group of the best pubs in the branch. Rather than just add a string of annual awards, we decided to look for the occasional or even one-off achievement to celebrate.

That year we commemorated the return to a healthy life, of a pub that had been dead, with a Phoenix Award and also celebrated the achievement of a first time licensee, turning a national brewery pub into a flourishing freehouse. The following year we recognised three pubs who had collaborated to run a community music weekend. There followed Outstanding Refurbishment, Outstanding Redevelopment awards along with long service awards.

Continuing the themes for 2018, plans included an “Outstanding support and promotion of LocAle”, when a rather different award was suggested. The Lower Ship Inn in Reading town centre has been boarded up since sometime in the 1980s. With an estimated 18 pubs closing a week, an organisation sitting on an empty pub, this needed highlighting. So the Awards Working party proposed to the branch an award to Sam Smiths, for having the “Longest closed pub for no good reason”. It was approved and when mentioned at the regional meeting it generated considerable interest and support.

With the increase in awards - we now award a certificate to each finalist for our Pub of the Year - and bringing those together with awarding certificates for the Local Beers of the Reading Beer & Cider Festival, we’d inaugurated a Gala Presentation Evening. So this September the table of certificates including one to recognise, what at least from our knowledge, is the record number of years that a pub’s owner have kept its licence running, but its doors closed. Unsurprisingly, Sam Smiths did not attend, or even reply to our invitation to collect the certificate. It looks like we now need try harder to see that they don’t miss out on receiving the certificate for this unique award.