FOR many, the local pub is more than just a place to eat and drink – it’s a place where people get together to help others.
And that couldn’t be more obvious than when you see the community spirit of staff and regulars at The Festing in Southsea.
Landlord Matt Chapman and his team threw their support behind the Tom Prince Cancer Trust two years ago, and since then have raised thousands of pounds for Blue Day – the charity day run jointly by The News and the trust.
Tom Prince was an avid Pompey fan, but he died the night before his 16th birthday, just 18 months after being diagnosed with the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
And the charity is close to the hearts of three Festing staff members – Harry Yard, Luke Threadingham and Callum Smith – because they all went to school with young Tom.
So last year eight employees and customers put aside their razors for three months in a sponsored beard-a-thon and managed to collect more than £2,000.
Now the group are upping the ante with a Southsea swim from Clarence Pier to South Parade Pier, which they hope will bring in twice as much cash.
Matt said: ‘We keep a jar behind the bar for the Tom Prince trust all year, and after almost every round of drinks money goes in there.
‘There is a strong community feeling in the pub; we’re all friends with the Prince family, and we all love Pompey.
‘Doing something like this is a great way to bring everyone together and raise money, and also celebrate the great things about this city.’
So far 25 people have agreed to take part in the pier to pier swim on August 28, and Matt said he knows it will require a lot more dedication than their last challenge.
‘A bit of itching aside, growing a beard is not really that tough,’ he said. ‘But being the staff and regulars in a pub, none of us are exactly in great shape. So while 2km might not seem a lot, we are all having to really put some effort in this time.’
Barman Harry Yard – who knew Tom at school – said it was easy to drum up enthusiasm among the pub’s customers. He added: ‘We all wanted to do something bigger this time, and it’s such a good cause that everyone wants to help out.’
Tom’s dad Clinton founded the trust, and was overjoyed with The Festing’s donation.
He said: ‘I just can’t thank the guys enough for what they’ve done. It gives us such a boost to know we’ve got a team like this behind us.’