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The Christie + Co Business outlook for Pubs, Restaurants and Leisure

On 15/01/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Christie + Co held their annual Business Outlook event last night to launch their 2014 review. Frances Edmonds hosted a question and answer session with David Rugg, their Chairman, and Chris Day, the Managing Director. The clear direction was that the summer of 2012 with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee saw the bottom of the curve in terms of economic activity, but since then as Frances put it with a para phrasing of Baroness Thatcher "There are not so many problems; only opportunities"

Neil Morgan (who acted as my host) provides some very positive data for pubs which is well timed with another Parliamentary Opposition Debate on pub companies soon approaching. So, a few facts to digest; the number of pubs sold to remain as pubs reached 67%; a 5% increase on 2012. Experienced operators and entrepreneurs are back. London remains in its own bubble trading wise with food as a driver, along with cask ale. It is interesting that Simon Chaplin who heads up the restaurant side wrote that some restaurants may chose "to diversify their offering in order to compete with ....the pub sector whose proposition has improved exponentially over the last decade."

On pub companies the report states: "The beer tie is going through a natural evolution...and pub companies understand there is more to be gained by managing the tenant relationship better and encouraging new tenants into the sector."

In terms of market predictions for 2014, Christies see a slowdown in tenanted disposals as pub companies become satisfied with their estates. The trend seeing more sold pubs remaining as pubs will continue upwards. The average price of pub year on year has moved from a 20.1% decline in 2009 to a 3.3 % increase in 2013... Christies remain "confident that the pub sector is in as healthy as position as it has been for many a long year."

You can read the report in full here.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The cleanup begins – responding to flood damage

On 10/01/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Thankfully, the extreme wet weather and high winds that have battered the UK since Christmas Eve now appear to be subsiding and in the wake of flooding, thoughts are turning to the clean-up ahead. Many of us face the mammoth, and in some cases heart-breaking, task of repairing the damage caused to flood damaged homes but businesses have also suffered and here there may be particular challenges to face. Pubs are one such example and in the attempt to address damage caused by flooded cellars the following pointers may help in the clean-up process.

First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the pub operator to ensure that the cellar and its contents are professionally sanitised. Documentary evidence that this has been carried out satisfactorily must be presented to any personnel entering the cellar and will include sanitisation of all equipment, kegs, casks and gas cylinders.

Line cleaning and glass washing should only be undertaken using potable water and all cellar contents that has been in contact with flood water should be assumed to be contaminated - these may therefore present a health risk. However, in the instance that equipment can be recovered from the cellar the following should be considered:

Electrical equipment: The components and wiring in electrical equipment recovered from flooded pub cellars will be damaged. The cellar service provider will recover the equipment for safe disposal / destruction with recovery of costs being subject to the insurance claim made by the outlet.

Kegs and casks: Unbroached kegs may be unaffected, but if contacted by flood water, should be returned to the brewery. Where casks have been contacted by flood water, the contents must be discarded since the shive is porous and there is a risk that the contents could be contaminated.

Dispense lines/ equipment: Cellar technical services will be responsible for the replacement of dispense equipment and beer lines that have been affected by flood water and recovery of costs will be subject to the insurance claim made by the outlet.

All containers affected by flood water should be clearly marked prior to uplift and returned to the brewery and documentary evidence should be presented to dray crew to show that the containers being uplifted for return have been sanitised in situ.

For full information on dealing with flood damage to pub cellars the BBPA has produced a technical circular, a copy of which can be obtained by contacting Steve Livens ( or 020 7627 9136.

Brewers and publicans can also contact the Licensed Trade Charity for further help and assistance. Examples of how the LTC may be able to help publicans and their families include:

• Income – if publicans will lose income as a result of the pub damage and publicans are struggling to manage essential living costs, the charity may be able to help with short term solutions, for example paying for regular essential monthly bills in the home.

• If publicans have had their homes damaged and the insurance does not cover the cost of temporary accommodation, the LTC may be able to pay for this.

• If essential items have been destroyed in the home, again not covered by insurance, we may be able to help replace them.

• If your staff and families are ill, and need special support which is not provided elsewhere in the short term, we might be able to arrange this.

These are just some of the ways the LTC may be able to help, so please encourage publicans to give them a call FREE on 0808 801 0550 to find out more. The helpline is open from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Calls are free from landlines and most mobile networks.

Alternatively, go online and type ‘flood’ to receive up-to-date information and practical advice.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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Is ‘Dry January’ the way forward?

On 06/01/14 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Going on the wagon post-Christmas is hardly is a new idea and for many seems like the best option after holiday indulgence.

However, this year ‘Dry January’ has hit the headlines in a big way with Alcohol Concern encouraging people to take part and Cancer Research UK and others calling for people to undertake a ‘dryathalon’. The challenge involves giving up booze for all 31 days of January to improve health, save money and in some cases get sponsored.

Whilst the intention of getting people to think about their health should be encouraged, is the culture of binge and fast sensible and realistic, particularly given that many fall off the wagon with a spectacular thud at some point during, or soon after, the month? Is not encouraging moderate consumption year round a better alternative to abstinence?

There have been a variety of different perspectives on Dry January published already including Alice Jones in the Independent discussing the justification for gaining sponsorship for doing something for yourself and Tom Sykes in the Telegraph looking at whether giving up alcohol for a month could be the sign of a drink problem. However, new data published by the ONS before Christmas on the perceptions of health by different categories of drinker provides an interesting additional perspective to the debate around perceptions of health:

• 83% of adults who said they drink alcohol rated their general health positively compared to 68% of adults who said they do not drink
• Those who consumed alcohol three days in the last week rated their health the most positively

• Those who didn't drink at all and those who drank every day in the last week were the least likely to rate their health positively;
• Those who said that they drink a moderate amount were also more likely to rate their health positively than those who never drink or drink heavily and all other categories of drinker.

Research from University College London medical school and the New Scientist published last week appeared to suggest that cutting out alcohol for one month could lead to a reversal of liver damage, improved brain function and weight loss. However, whilst an interesting experiment it is all too easy for a single report to grab the headlines and scare people into decisions with limited information.

It is worth remembering that the balance of evidence up until now demonstrates that moderate levels of alcohol intake have been associated with lower mortality risk and may confer an overall net health benefit when compared with either abstention or a high level intake, (otherwise known as the J-shaped curve). A good summary of the available evidence around alcohol and health can be found in Tony Edward’s book ‘The Good News about Booze’.

There is also mounting scientific evidence that moderate alcohol consumption, as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, can have a positive impact on a number of health conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Although perception is clearly no replacement for medical evidence, the ONS data does seem to support the general view that moderate levels of alcohol consumption can form part of a healthy lifestyle. It is also worth remembering that national trends continue to show an overall decline in alcohol consumption and among those classed as ‘binge drinkers’.

Whilst it is of course up to individuals to make their own decisions it should at least be based on the correct information. I for one will not be going dry for January but will continue to drink moderately and responsibly and support our pubs and brewers in what can be a challenging time of the year (I might just manage to drag myself back to the gym though!).

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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2013 - a turning point for the industry

On 20/12/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

As featured in On-trade Review

I hope we look back on 2013 as a turning point for the industry. While trading conditions remain a challenge, we have had successes which put us in a far better place that we had dared to hope at the start of the year.

Let me begin with beer duty. There is no doubt that the abolition of the beer duty escalator, and the cut in beer duty in the March Budget was an astonishing success for all those who campaigned so tirelessly for many years. It was also a great tribute to joined-up campaigning in the trade, with huge support and expertise, not least from CAMRA, but from a large number of organisations and individuals in the supply chain who contributed to this success.

Let’s not forget the impact. The two per cent cut means that beer duty is now seven per cent lower than it was due to be this year. Furthermore, we face no automatic, above inflation increase in 2014. The challenge now and in 2014 is to keep campaigning, highlighting the benefits of the cut - on confidence, on investment, and on employment in the sector.

We are already doing just that. We have published a six month review of the positive impact, and have already begun a campaign for a duty freeze in the 2014 Budget. It is vital that the whole industry keeps up the pressure.

Maintaining volumes for beer in the home market remains a challenge, especially in the on-trade. However, we are now witnessing unprecedented investment in the beer category as a whole, with the Launch of the Let There Be Beer campaign.

Let There Be Beer, with its TV advertising and high-profile campaign, is one of the most significant investments in British beer in many decades. Opportunities for on-trade participation in the campaign will grow, and I believe that by 2014 will see the campaign bringing real benefits to the whole beer category.

At the BBPA, we have also worked hard to position beer and pubs at the heart of the UK tourism offer – with considerable success this year, with the launch of the Pubs are GREAT, and Heritage is Great strands of the high-impact Britain is GREAT campaign – the latter now features British beers in its poster campaign.

On pubs, there is now a different mood in Government when it comes to seeing the trade as central to the UK tourism industry, both in terms of attracting overseas visitors, and seeing pubs as central to the domestic tourism trade. In 2013, we should see the full impact, as this campaign gathers pace.

Despite the challenges, the pub trade is seeing other really positive developments. The focus on professionalism and training is something I see as key to future success. UK plc needs more apprenticeships and a step change in attitudes when it comes to seeing work in the pub trade as a highly-skilled career choice. The Government is aware of the need for action and we will see more positive partnerships when it comes to establishing these opportunities in the trade.

Of course. we will continue to face challenges in 2014, when it comes to attempts to over-regulate the trade. The Government’s localism agenda, while a good thing in itself, was always going to raise issues, in terms of local authorities and police forces attempting to over-regulate their local pub trade, often to the detriment of local economies as well as the trade itself.

In 2014, we will continue to oppose individual authorities in the efforts to implement costly late night levies and early morning restriction orders. There is currently a mixed picture. While there is no doubt considerable interest in using these new measures, many authorities are retreating from the proposals once they realise the damaging effect they can have on local businesses – often thanks to well argued interventions from the trade, putting the arguments forward on a case-by-case basis.

To resist moves in this direction, we will also have to step up to the plate when it comes to partnership working. We must work hard to persuade local authorities that this is the best way to improve town centres.

Despite these challenges, I am optimistic. The Government has made significant moves to improve confidence in the trade. The pubs minister, Brandon Lewis, has proved receptive to our concerns. With competing priorities within Government, he won’t win every battle, but he is someone who can successfully champion pubs. He has also now taken on responsibility for the Government’s policies in relation to the renewal of our high streets. This is an area where pubs can and should play a crucial role, and it is all to the good that these responsibilities are now being brought together.

There is much to look forward to in 2014.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Seven beers for seven breakfasts

On 10/12/13

Guest Blog from Dea Latis

Dea Latis, the women and beer group held its second Beers with Breakfast event last week in a seven-beer hair-of-the-dog morning session at the Somers Town Coffee House in London.

The female gathering of journalists, bloggers, brewers and marketeers assembled to test their taste buds alongside the delicious breakfast menu at the Yummy Pub Co owned pub in Chalton Street near Euston.

Beer sommelier, Jane Peyton, was guest speaker for the group and offered her impassioned plea to women to consider the UK’s national drink as regular a drink of choice.

There was no need to persuade the hungry group of tasters of the merits of beer as Beer Sommelier Annabel Smith began her tutored tasting and everyone got stuck in.

Over the next 90 minutes they quaffed, nibbled, deliberated, Tweeted, snapped and scribbled through seven beers - kindly donated by each of the brewers - and the accompanying breakfast courses in true multi-tasking style.

The menu began with a poached egg and smoked salmon with Hollandaise drizzle on a toasted muffin served with St Austell Brewery’s 4.8% abv Clouded Yellow beer and ended with a Wells and Young’s 5.2% abv Double Chocolate Stout served with pancakes with chocolate sauce and blueberries. (See the full menu below.)

At the end of the tasting the unanimous winner was the eggs and smoked salmon with Hollandaise dish which beautifully complemented the citrusy notes of St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow beer.

Lisa Harlow, who helped to organise the event with Ros Shiel and Annabel Smith, said: “At the end of a fantastic year for beer – and a year where there are more women brewing and drinking beer than ever before* – this was a wonderful cross-industry celebration of our versatile, varied and flavoursome UK brews. It was great that we could highlight that different styles of beers will go with just about anything – even breakfast!”

*Women trying real ale for the first time has grown from 14% to 34% in the last three years. CAMRA, August 2013

The seven beers with seven breakfasts menu

With thanks to all the brewers who donated and delivered the beers and to Anthony and the crew at Somers Town Coffee House, the full beer and food menu was as follows:

  • Poached Egg and Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise Drizzle served with St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow 4.8% (from St Austell Brewery in Cornwall)
  • Crispy Smoked Bacon with a herby grilled tomato served with Freedom Pilsner Lager 5% (from Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire)
  • Bombardier Rarebit Crumpet served with Wells and Young’s Bombardier 4.1% (from Bedford)
  • Black Pudding and Apple Crisp served with Timothy Taylors Landlord 4.1% (from Keighley in West Yorkshire)
  • Chilli Avocado on French Toast served with Thwaites Wainwright 4.1% (from Blackburn in Lancashire)
  • Banana and Strawberry Smoothie served with Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer 5.2% (from Bedford)
  • Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce and Blueberries served with Wells and Young’s Chocolate Stout 5.2% (from Bedford)

For more information go to: or follow them on Twitter @DeaLatis or like them on Facebook at /DeaLatis.


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Beer Serves Europe IV

On 06/12/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

For the fourth year running, the Brewers of Europe(BoE) hosted 'Beer Serves Europe' in Brussels. This year the theme was economy and beer. It marked the launch of the EY report 'The Contribution made by Beer to the European Economy' and also a positive piece of research from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) 'The European Beer Industry; incentivising the growth potential'. Following speeches from the President of the Brewers of Europe and the EESC, I was invited to sit on the panel for an hour's discussion.

The EY report found that beer supports 2 million jobs, representing 1% of all jobs in the EU. I was able to talk about the importance of the supply chain. In Europe one job in brewing creates one job in agriculture, one in packaging and logistics, one in marketing, one in retail and 11 in hospitality. As we are the only association within BoE who represents the on-trade as well as producers; the link with pubs in the UK was clear. The EESC recommended that EU states work to create a 'predictable and stable tax regime' for beer, which linked well with our economic arguments in favour of a further beer duty freeze..

On the panel was Dana Bachmann from DG Education and Culture. She was promoting the European Alliance on Apprenticeships and is keen for small and large organisations to pledge their support. It gave me an opportunity to talk about the interest in training in the UK - the Mums factor - and specifically that you can be running your own business by the time you are 25 with training provided for all levels and even the potential for a degree.

Salvatore D'Acunto is from DG Enterprise and is responsible for TTIP and the negotiations between the EU and US on import and export tariffs. I explained the discrepancy between US small brewers who benefit from EU small brewer relief, but that the reduction in the US for small brewers from $18 to $7 is not offered to their counterparts from the EU. He was keen to support.

Edwin Calleja from Malta was one of the co-authors of the EESC report. He was very supportive of my call for all EU states to recognise the contribution of the beer sector to their own economy and provide support. He was very surprised when I talked about the 42% increase we had in beer duty over 4 years and was certainly supportive of a continued tax freeze. We discussed the contribution of brewers to the environment; anaerobic digestion; climate change agreements; water saving and energy.

The debate ended with a look to the future. I promoted beer as low strength; a drink of choice; our Let There Be Beer campaign and the employment opportunities we offer. Kim Evenpoel a journalist from the Belgium equivalent of the FT saw the continued strength of our industry, but like us all clearly saw the continued challenges too.

The EESC opinion on "Incentivising the growth potential of the European beer industry" is available to view here

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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An Autumnal boost for Britain's pubs

On 06/12/13

Yesterday saw the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, though the weather was of course showing signs that Winter had well and truly begun. Amongst the various forecasts on debt and deficit, growth and employment, all important to the beer and pub sector, were a number of announcements that affected our industry.

For a sector that has grown accustomed to cowering in fear whenever successive Chancellors have stood up to speak, these could be nervy times. However, there now seems to be a degree of confidence around. The winds of change have swept through Parliament and pubs are now seen as an important part of the economy, helping to deliver growth and jobs.

Many of the announcements had already been trailed in the press and it was clear that something was planned for business rates. The BBPA has been campaigning for some time on rates, arguing that the cost to pubs was growing, and becoming unsustainable. Over the last couple of months this has been enshrined in the Better Rates for Pubs campaign, bringing together a coalition of interested parties.

The first key aim of the campaign, the extension of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) was duly delivered. This discount will now be available to pubs up to April 2014. As the name suggests, this only applies to those at the lower end, a 100 per cent discount for pubs with a rateable value of £6,000 and below, tapering to nothing at £12,000. This is worth up to £27 million to the pub trade.

More positive news came on rates with a 'cap' being placed on the rate at which the overall tax level went up. It had been due to increase by the retail price index (RPI), 3.2%, but instead went up by just 2%. This meant a £17 million reduction on the expected level for pubs.

The third element on rates was more unexpected. The Autumn Statement announced that Government would 'provide additional support to the retail sector through a business rates discount of up to £1,000 in 2014-15 and 2015-16 for retail properties (including pubs, cafes, restaurants and charity shops) with a rateable value of up to £50,000, and a 50% discount from business rates for new occupants of previously empty retail premises for 18 months'. Though it's still slightly unclear how this will work it is a massive boost to the bottom line of about 38,000 pubs. The relief for empty buildings removes a significant barrier to reopening pubs that lie dormant.

There was also a significant boost in terms of employment. The Government committed to remove national insurance contributions for employees below the age of 21. This is likely to benefit the pub sector, which already has in excess of 200,000 staff below this age, through lower costs. But it also opens up more opportunities for young people to get into the pub industry, and learn the valuable skills this industry can offer.

Other measures were announced affecting our industry. Moves to tackle alcohol duty fraud were confirmed, which will help to prevent fraudsters undercutting the legitimate trade. A ban on below-cost-selling was also included in the document, ensuring the cheapest products are taken off of shelves. There was further commitment to building exports and supporting the GREAT campaign, that will build the tourism industry.

All in all, the Autumn Statement delivered for the pub trade in some key areas. A Treasury graphic after the speech was delivered estimated the tax cut to pubs to be around 4.7%. The aforementioned growth and figures were also positive. An upturn in the economy should provide a much-needed boost in consumer spending that must help pubs.

But this was just a warm-up for the main event. For the Government to truly show its determination to help Britain's beer drinkers and pub-goers, licensees across the country and Britain's historic brewers then more action needs to be taken on beer duty. The weather is giving a hint George, a freeze is in order.


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Experience the benefits of Pubwatch

On 27/11/13

Guest blog from National Pubwatch Chairman, Steve Baker

Next year’s National Pubwatch Conference ‘Protect and promote your Pubwatch through partnership working’ will be held at the Palace Hotel, Oxford Street, Manchester, on the 18th February next year.

Pubwatch has a proven track record of bringing together the pub and hospitality sector, enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to work effectively at reducing the problems associated with alcohol and violence. It is probably one of the most effective ways of protecting your assets, staff and customers from the threat posed by the small minority of people who can cause real damage to the reputation of the pub trade.

The Pubwatch movement gives the pub and hospitality sector a very real opportunity to demonstrate its social responsibility credentials and the impact that it can make on crime and disorder, not just in pubs and bars but in the wider area. An independent research project carried out on behalf of National Pubwatch by Leeds Metropolitan University in 2012/13 showed that over 85% of licensees joined their local Pubwatch scheme to:

  • Help create a safer environment in their local area.
  • Build/improve relationships with local agencies such as police and representatives from the council’s licensing department.
  • Network with other licensees who are members of their local scheme.

Once licensees had joined their scheme, 87% stated they would recommend it to others and importantly this view was supported by the Police and Local Authority stakeholders with 91% and 92% respectively stating they would recommend the scheme to other police and LA’s. The role of National Pubwatch was seen as a central part of the overall Pubwatch movement with over 90% of stakeholders championing their advisory role for new and existing Pubwatch schemes in addition to their voice on issues of crime and violence.

So how can you help and benefit from this national movement and really demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility? Well for a start you could make a meaningful pledge to support the work of National Pubwatch by joining existing sponsors such as JD Wetherspoon, Stonegate and BBPA who already see the advantages of Pubwatch membership. Secondly, you could support your workforce (Managers, Area Managers, Risk Managers etc.) by giving them the time to find out more about how they can participate in a successful local Pubwatch scheme by attending the NPW conference at the Palace Hotel Manchester - 18 February 2014.

The conference concentrates on two main themes – how to run a successful Pubwatch, including how to protect your Pubwatch from legal challenges and other threats; and how engaging in partnership working helps promote your business as part of a safe and vibrant late night economy. A series of workshops throughout the day will explore these themes and provide a forum for discussion and debate.

We pride ourselves on providing delegates with a great experience and value for money, plus the opportunity to meet other Pubwatch representatives from around the country and share ideas and good practice. There will also be a ‘surgery’ where National Pubwatch representatives will be on hand to answer queries and give advice relating to local watches.

To see the draft conference programme, location details and to register visit:


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The Best of British – Celebrating the Great Campaign

On 26/11/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

When an invitation arrives on your desk to be a guest of Her Majesty’s Government in the Locarno Suite at the Foreign Office, you are certainly keen to go. Dating back to 1868 and designed by George Gilbert Scott, the Locarno Suite has recently been completely restored and is truly magnificent. Last night we were there to be thanked for our part in supporting the GREAT campaign.

When Ed Vaizey MP the Culture Minister stood to speak and apologise that Maria Miller the Secretary of State was unable to preside over proceedings, I was rather disappointed, but he then introduced what he described as two important guests: the Prime Minister and Jools Holland!

The Prime Minister began by saying that whether you saw Prince Harry on the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain or David Beckham supporting the campaign from around the world; the word ‘Great’ was clearly now back into Britain. The campaign has clearly helped the UK to export goods and services around the world and when you find that curry is being exported from Anglesey to India, you realise just what we as a country can do. He thanked all the partners who had made such a difference; the sports starts who helped promote the campaign; he talked about going to Calcutta to back promoting Britain and how heritage, innovation, knowledge, history, shopping, culture and entrepreneurship single us out as a nation. After a quip that normally the Chancellor made all funding announcements, but that actually he was the 2nd Secretary to the Treasury; the Prime Minister being the first; he then went onto announce that funding for the GREAT campaign has been extended for 2 years until 2016.

To celebrate that Music is GREAT, we were then entertained by two songs by Jools Holland and as a friend of mine remarked as we were leaving, I only wish I could play like that!

Whilst they were not serving beer, I discussed our Pubs are GREAT and Heritage is GREAT (for beer), with Number 10 and VisitBritain. We are certainly one of the more popular posters used around the world and pubs remain number three on the list of places to visit for overseas visitors coming to the UK.

On a personal note Sir Robin Knox-Johnston with whom I used to sit on the Board of Sport England was there, flying off to Australia today to see his Clipper fleet and expecting to take part in the Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day! He is 74 and I told him that I would be very proud if I was still sailing at his age – his reply – I am sure you will be!

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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