Jacki Phillips. The Arion, Ainsdale, Southport
We organise everything we do to try to cater for everyone. This ranges from menu planning, internal and external decorations to annual events and fun days. Events are always affordable to attend. We offer kids eat for £1 twice weekly and many other offers to allow those on low incomes to eat out. Many of our family events include breakfast with Santa, Easter Egg Hunt with the Easter bunny, Halloween discos and they are free to attend. The Arion is a central meeting place for many of the Ainsdale community groups such as The Women's Institute, Ainsdale Pain Group, Scouts, Brownies, Book Club, Aintree Motor Circuit Club, Horticultural Society and 3 school PTA's to name a few! Other events we have hosted include summer BBQs, family fun nights, classic motor shows, Xmas fairs, Race nights, cake sales, coffee mornings and kids clubs.
My job is a lot more than serving a good pint. Over the last 5 years I have engaged with a lot of local people becoming their friends and being a part of everyday community life, helping those less fortunate or in need.
One lady who lost her husband a couple of years ago was recently diagnosed with dementia. Her only family was a son who lived away. She lived opposite the pub so I would check on her daily, bring her to the pub for her meals and see her home. We have now managed to get her into a local care home where I still go to visit her. We also have a couple of disabled customers who we deliver meals to on a regular basis.
Recently we had a power cut affecting most of the area. Strangely we still had power in part of the pub. We posted on Facebook informing people if they needed power or hot water they were welcome to come down and had a huge response, with people queuing to use sockets, charge phones, make up baby's bottles; one lady came to refill her hot water bottle!
The local council recently announced that they were planning on closing the local kids park due to maintenance costs so in June we extended the beer garden and have had a small play area built so the kids will still have somewhere to play when it closes. So far this has been a great success and lovely to see kids from all different schools in the area playing together outside.
For the past few years we have had 20+ locals round for dinner on Christmas Day. Many of them would have spent the day alone had they not shared it with us.
We helped raise money for 1 local school to get a defibrillator and then paid for 30 children to receive training on how to use it and do basic first aid.
We have just started the Ainsdale Clinic Project which is to raise money for adapted furnishings for the local clinic. Another cause we are currently supporting is the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust to support them in providing a fully functioning service to the Sefton area.
Other projects we have been involved in are the restoration of the village green and war memorial and supporting a local 13 year old boy with severe learning difficulties - 'DJ Joe'' - to fulfil his dream of being a DJ, allowing him to DJ in the pub.
We held a 70's themed night to raise money for the local kids football team to purchase new kits and equipment. We also purchased TV's, radios and head sets for the local Critical Care Unit at Southport Hospital
Any Award money would be split between our two projects at the moment, including the purchase of equipment needed at the local Clinic for Wellbeing; seating for patients with disabilities, footstools etc for the Pain Clinic and items for use in other clinics/groups held there. All residents in Ainsdale have access to the clinic and would benefit from any additional/ improved equipment that can't be funded by the NHS due to cutbacks.
The other project is for Southport Offshore Rescue Trust which provides a lifeboat and land based rescue service around the Sefton coastline. It covers an area of coastline from the River Mersey to the River Ribble - up to 25 miles of offshore waters. It is independent of the RNLI (who withdrew many years ago). The trust relies purely on donations and fundraising to support itself. The lifeboat is currently stationed at the old lifeboat house and is over 130 years old. There are no toilets or washroom facilities and the interior is in desperate need of modernisation in every way. The running costs at present are £60k per year which have to be achieved by donations and fundraising activities. We feel that this part of the coastline, with it's numerous tourist attractions and beaches, should have a fully functioning lifeboat service and are currently in discussion with the Trust as to how we can best help them should we win either Award.