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Press Release

01/06/2022

CAMRA raises a glass to its volunteers

CAMRA raises a glass to its volunteers as Volunteers’ Week kicks off (1-7 June), an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people makes across the UK through volunteering. 

The Campaign for Real Ale is entirely volunteer led, from its national Board of Directors to its local branches. Whether it’s judging the best beer in Britain or running one of CAMRA 180+ beer festivals around the country, volunteers are involved in every aspect of CAMRA campaigning.  

To say thank you to these dedicated individuals who have helped the organisation campaign for great beer, cider, pubs and clubs across every community, CAMRA will be buying a round for one lucky branch who has gone above and beyond to reform activity as normal after the pandemic, which saw so much CAMRA activity grind to a halt. 

Branches are encouraged to share reasons why they should win a round on social media channels, tagging in @CAMRA_Official throughout Volunteers Week for the chance to enter. The winning branch will be randomly selected at midnight on 7 June. Full Terms & Conditions can be found here. 

CAMRA’s National Vice Chair Abigail Newton said: “CAMRA wouldn’t be what it is today without the support, dedication, and passion of thousands of volunteers. In over 50 years of campaigning our volunteers have changed the face of the beer world – introducing beer festivals to the British public, breaking up the brewery monopolies in the 1980s, strengthening planning protection for pubs in England, identifying the very best pubs and breweries through our awards programme and Good Beer Guides – and more.  

“None of this could have been accomplished without the dedicated beer lovers who volunteer their time for CAMRA and I want to thank everyone involved in the organisation from the bottom of my heart. The last few years of the pandemic have hit every level of our volunteering, but I am so proud that we are returning to full strength with festivals, awards, meetings and branch socials finally up and running. I think we can all cheers to that!” 

To find out more about CAMRA campaigning, we have put together a selection of case studies available for media use throughout Volunteers’ Week. Please find below: 

Gillian Hough – CAMRA member of 30 years 

     

What is your role? Strategically overseeing real ale, cider and perry in the UK 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? I attended Pig’s Ear Beer Festival, then held at Bethnal Green Town Hall, as a student and fell in love with the selection, variety, flavours and stories behind the beers. I became a student member and when I’d paid off my overdraft signed up as a Life Member. I love how CAMRA enables you to do anything and supports you to learn and hone your techniques and experience. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA? Especially after the last two years it is so important that we get out this summer to our pubs and clubs to reconnect with others. No one is an island, we all like to share our stories and we need to feel respected and included. Pubs and clubs are a great place to be grounded, be ourselves and be valued. 

Sean O’Mahoney – CAMRA member of 2 years 

 

What is your role? Social Media Manager for Pubs. Pints. People. Podcast 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? I started volunteering primarily to share good beer with good people, to drink alongside others who enjoyed beer as much as I did, and to share the experience. Joining CAMRA as a volunteer gave me just that. Within the two years I have been involved, I have met dozens of amazing people that are just as keen as I am to share the experience of beer, cider, and perry. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA? Volunteering for a social media role has given me a broad overview of the amazing people involved with CAMRA at both a regional and national level. This has led to me knowing about various social events happening in a range of pubs across the UK and has definitely given me plenty of wonderful people to drink with, has gotten me out of the house more, and has certainly improved my mental wellbeing. 

Paul Ainsworth – CAMRA member of 40 years 

 

What is your role? National Planning Policy Adviser, Chair of Pub Heritage Group and pub campaigning 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? My first involvement at national level was as minutes secretary to both the National Executive and Branches Committee, which I did from 1982 to 1989. From 1989 until 2002, I was Regional Director for East Anglia, also serving on several national committees. After my ‘retirement’ I continued to sit on several committees, notably Pub Campaigns and Campaigns Strategy. I was a founding member of the Planning Advisory Group and in 2004 took over as chair of the Pub Heritage Group. In 2010 I was appointed as National Planning Policy Adviser, leading from the volunteer angle on planning issues relating to pubs. I was chair of the Pub Campaigns Committee from 2015 to 2019. Much of my volunteering time these days is taken up with assisting local pub campaigners who are trying to prevent the closure or ruination of their local pub. Nowadays (largely thanks to CAMRA campaigning) the planning system is much more protective of community facilities like pubs and, with help and advice, campaigners often see off the unwanted plans of developers and pub owners. I also help campaigners who are trying to get their local pub listed as an Asset of Community Value but meet resistance both from owners and the Councils responsible for legislation. On the pub heritage front, CAMRA continues to work hard to both promote and protect important historic pub interiors and we have had many successes over the years. I also try to play my part in the wider aspects of pub campaigning – for instance the series of magazine articles I wrote last year about pub companies and their practices, good and bad. At local level, I’m an active member of my local branch, editing our branch magazine and serving as pub protection officer. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA? Over the last forty years, I have made many friends through my involvement with CAMRA and always look forward to meeting up with colleagues, both at national level and locally. The National Conference is always a highlight for me, mainly for the opportunity to catch up with old mates. I should make a special mention of Pub Heritage Group which includes some of the most committed, enthusiastic and effective volunteers I’ve ever encountered – chairing the group is (largely) an absolute joy. 

Catherine Tonry – CAMRA member of 15 years 

 

What is your role? Technical Director and Great British Beer Festival Organiser 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? I first volunteered at the Great British Beer Festival as I had been a customer for many years and lived locally. I had just finished my PGCE and was off for the summer, so decided to volunteer. I had a great time and have been volunteering since, rising through the ranks to Festival Organiser and being elected to the National Executive. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA?   It is why most of the volunteers I know do it, CAMRA is like a second family. I have made lifelong friends through CAMRA. 

Mark Haslam – CAMRA member of 35 years 

 

What is your role? Various: generically, I assist on pub-planning matters (including giving advice to community groups who are seeking to take pubs into community-ownership). I am a member of CAMRA’s national Pub and Club Campaigns Committee, and I am Public Affairs Officer for the West Midlands Region. At branch level – for Herefordshire – I act as Campaigns & Public Affairs Officer, and organise our annual ‘Beer on the Wye’ festival in Hereford. 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? It’s good to be able to make a difference; to see pubs open and thriving that were once under threat, and to be able to enjoy decent beer in those pubs. I also enjoy working with like-minded people. Britain’s pub and beer culture needs people to speak up for it. I am proud to be able to do my little bit to help. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA? It’s good to meet fellow members (and their friends) down the pub and on trips. It’s particularly good fun to work with a team of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers at beer festivals, including at my own (Beer on the Wye).  

Paul Sanders – CAMRA member of 12 years 

 

What is your role? Regional Director 

What is your experience volunteering with CAMRA and why did you choose to get involved? I have met some great people through the campaign especially volunteering at festivals, however having worked with different groups I have met a huge range of people from different communities. 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the social side of volunteering for CAMRA?   I have had the opportunity to visit many different pubs, one of the roles I have done is to visit pubs and clubs to assess them for our competitions and have found so many variations on the theme of pub or club. 

All images are available here. 

If you would like to speak to any of our volunteers or find out more, please contact press@camra.org.uk  

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