Lancashire pub up for award after going above and beyond for community

“This funding means we can support a charity that’s really close to my heart and that’s played such a vital role in helping my family to manage my niece’s health,” says the popular pub’s manager

A popular Lancashire pub has donated £1,000 to a charity that helps children with disabilities and their families after being shortlisted for a major award.

Garstang pub The Bellflower was shortlisted in the Community Hero category of the Great British Pub Awards 2021 – and has donated the funding from category sponsor Coca Cola to Mawdesley charity Rainbow Hub which helps children with physical and neurological disabilities.

The funding is aimed at helping all six shortlisted pubs to continue with the community work that got them to the final. Manager Heather Brandwood paid tribute to the much loved charity – and explained why it is particularly close to her heart.

She told LancsLive how her beloved two-year-old niece, Scarlett Steeden-Smith, who suffers with cerebral palsy, a cyst on the brain and chronic kidney disease, attends Rainbow Hub, and has been greatly helped by the charity. Lancs Live reported last December how staff at The Bellflower were raising money to support Scarlett’s family before a vital operation in January.

Heather told Lancs Live: “Scarlett is doing well – she is now quite mobile with the rollator they bought with the last raffle funds. We’ll be doing an Easter raffle starting next week for her too.

“We chose the Rainbow Hub to benefit from our £1k donation from Coca-Cola for various reasons. It is a local charity making a huge impact on the lives of the families they help, including Scarlett, who we currently raise funds for to help provide medical equipment and treatments.

“We’re currently planning our next Easter Bunny project, where we aim to give out thousands of chocolatey treats to local children to raise further funds for Scarlett. We’ll be doing personal Easter bunny visits to be booked in advance to raise funds for Garstang Christmas Lights, helping the committee to keep our beautiful town sparkling through the festive period.”

Meanwhile, big-hearted staff at The Bellflower are constantly striving to help the local community with a range of activities from socially distanced Easter egg hunts to Christmas drop-ins. Kind staff also worked tirelessly to deliver food parcels to families in vulnerable circumstances, donating more than 3,000 meals over the last year, and launching a ‘period poverty’ scheme for those unable to access sanitary products as well as a second hand school uniform service.

The accolade of being recognised in the awards was ‘brilliant,’ said Heather. She added: “It was brilliant to be recognised in the Pub of the Year Awards 2021, and really humbling to see how our community projects had made such a difference to people’s lives.

“Being able to keep people’s spirits up – and supporting those most in need over the past few years has meant a lot to us, and we’re so grateful for the recognition we have received from the Great British Pub Awards and from Coca-Cola. I personally am especially grateful, because this funding means we can support a charity that’s really close to my heart and that’s played such a vital role in helping my family to manage my niece’s health.

“All details of our events can be found on our Facebook page, and we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to use our amazing pub and team to help others. If you’ve any ideas, feel free to get in touch!”

Holly Firmin, Senior Community Partnerships Manager at Coca-Cola said: “It’s been so inspiring to see how pubs and their customers stepped up to support local people during the pandemic – despite many facing real challenges themselves. We’re pleased to be able to help Heather and her team at The Bellflower support such an important cause – and one that we know means a lot to them. Funding this donation is our way of saying a huge well done and thank you.”

Kat Nelson, Head of Fundraising at Rainbow Hub, said, “We are delighted to learn of the donation from The Bellflower and cannot thank Heather, Coca Cola and everyone involved enough. As we receive no statutory funding for the specialised services we provide every penny counts.

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