Love Your Local: The Brewers Arms, Milton

Jo Clarke, landlady of The Brewers Arms in Milton  'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122917-2) ENGPPP00120120309201426
Jo Clarke, landlady of The Brewers Arms in Milton 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122917-2) ENGPPP00120120309201426

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Landlady Jo Clarke has issued a strong message to beer lovers everywhere – keep supporting your local or risk losing it.

Jo, who runs the pumps at The Brewers Arms, in Milton Road, Portsmouth, believes there should be some sort of restriction imposed on big chain boozers that sell alcohol at cheap prices.

She said it has a knock-on effect and tenants like herself cannot keep up and offer punters the same knock-down prices – and all pubs should be told to sell beer within the same price range.

And Jo, 42, says her future at the Brewers Arms is dependent on whether Pompey are successful next season – since a large chunk of her customer base is fans of the club.

Jo said: ‘My contract runs out next September and I don’t know whether I will re-sign or not. My pub is very football orientated.

‘If Pompey aren’t doing well then my life circles around that. If they are not going to be doing well then that may be the time for me to go.

‘I have seen people in the pub in tears because they have felt let down by the club.

‘These people work hard all year round for a season ticket.’

Jo has been at the helm of the pub for five years and says she would take fond memories with her if she decided to go.

‘I have had the time of my life here,’ she said.

‘You couldn’t buy this sort of experience.

‘It has been brilliant and I would be heartbroken if I had to go.’

In the meantime, Jo is doing all she can to help out worthy causes and make a difference to the lives of young people.

On May 31, Jo – who has in the past received a We Can Do It T-shirt from The News for her fundraising efforts – is to hold a ‘fire walk’ in aid of Little Heroes.

The charity supports children with cancer.

The event, which starts at 7.30pm, will see punters walk over hot coals.

The pub had set itself a target of raising £1,000 and has already smashed that.

Then at a later date there are plans to hold a ‘Brew Fest’ – a day of live music with children’s games, a raffle and auction which will help to support Scummers and Skates.

This is a group made up of people from Portsmouth and Southampton who have joined together to help charities in the community.

Jo has been inspired to help make a difference this summer because she has known people who have taken their life in recent months.

‘I like holding events for charity because I get pleasure out of doing them,’ she said.

‘I don’t think pubs support a lot of smaller charities.’

Jo says life is tough in the pub trade – but the key is to battle on and do your best.

She praised The News’ Love Your Local campaign and believes more should be done to raise awareness of the good work locals do.

‘Life is difficult in pubs now and I don’t think we get cut a lot of slack,’ she said.

‘It worries me quite a lot thinking that in 10 years time, are a lot of these pubs around here still going to be here?

‘That’s something I am not sure about.

‘If people don’t support their local, it won’t be their local for much longer.

‘If you don’t get the support then pubs won’t get strong again.’

One of the changes Jo wants to make as the summer approaches is to introduce a quiz night for her customers.

Her pub already has a big golf society and it is on the lookout for a new men’s pool and dart teams.

In 2012, a team of 33 customers cycled across Portsmouth in fancy dress costumes in a bid to fund ongoing treatment for seven-month-old Sophia Sizer Hellard, who has kidney disease.

In more recent times the pub held a ‘Mr and Mrs’ event to raise cash for young people’s service Off The Record.

Jo, originally from Manchester, has a team of three bar staff and used to run a kiosk at Clarence Pier.

When trade on the seafront started to decline, she got into bar work before setting herself the challenge of running her own pub.

‘We are a community pub,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t do it all without the support of my family, staff and customers.’