Publicans are spreading a little cheer with the help of a South Yorkshire poet, despite being unable to welcome customers

A South Yorkshire poet is helping publicans spread a little cheer despite being unable to welcome customers through their doors

The Winter Warmers campaign is celebrating pubs which have continued to support their communities throughout the pandemic

Let’s Drink Together Again, a poem penned and performed by Rotherham’s Gavin Roberts is being shared through social media, posters and postcards as part of a campaign organisers said is designed to help bring some cheer and hope to publicans, their staff and their local communities.

Gavin’s poem is one of seven individual poems about pubs written by poets from six regions across England, which makes up the national Winter Warmers campaign, a collaboration between arts project INN CROWD and Harrogate-based not-for-profit, Pub is the Hub.

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John Longden, Pub is The Hub CEO, said: “Despite the huge worries and challenges to their businesses that publicans have faced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and continue to endure with this current lockdown, they and their teams have worked tirelessly and selflessly to help support others and keep them safe.

“We all wanted to do something to say a special thank you and recognise their efforts.”

Since the first lockdown, almost a year ago, which meant pubs had to close their doors, many have adapted and been offering essential services to people in their local communities including phone support to combat loneliness, pop-up grocery shops, takeaway food and meals on wheels for the elderly and those struggling financially.

Some have been sharing postcards featuring Gavin’s poem by putting them in takeaway bags and food boxes as well as posting them through doors with a cheerful message to keep people’s spirits up.

Gavin said it had been an “honour” to write a poem in praise of pubs.

“To write a poem in honour of the great British pub, the culture and folk who patronise them is, quite simply, a privilege.

“I want my poem to be a rally call for all of us for whom the pub is our beating heart, we miss them.

“And I want my poem to look forward to a brighter future, a time when we can gather together again.”

A national poem of thanks to our nation’s publicans has also been released as part of the campaign. Called the Public House it has been written and performed by poet and actress Alexandra Ewing, the daughter of a former publican.

INN CROWD’s Dawn Badland said: “These two sectors, pubs and the arts, which have been among the hardest hit in this pandemic, make an invaluable contribution to our society, and it is brilliant to be able to come together with Pub is The Hub to do something positive for the publicans and artists working in them.”