Publicans Steve and Mary Cranshaw tell Fiona Finch why they and their customers will be backing a £20,000 appeal to give a county food bank a much needed new home - and why they hope our readers will follow their example
There shouldn’t be food banks in this day and age – but there is a need for them.’
In one sentence Lancashire pub landlord Stephen Cranshaw sums up why he and wife Mary are backing a campaign, launched just a week ago, to fund a new home for a local food bank.
It is some six years since Stephen, known as Big Steve, and wife Mary saw a short newspaper report about a food bank in Chorley
Steve, licensee of The Red Herring at Coppull, recalled: “Previously I didn’t realise there was a food bank in Chorley. It was just before Christmas and we got talking about it.”
They had a good recommendation – a local school dinner lady was a supporter of the food bank and Steve said: “She had been dropping stuff off for a while.
“So I thought right we’ll put a few (fund-raising) football cards on this Christmas and I’ll take some stuff in January.”
The rest is history. Since then Steve, Mary and customers have been regular and loyal supporters of the food bank.
Any doubts raised by those who suggested that sometimes the non-needy took advantage of food bank hand outs was, he explains, quickly dispelled.
Steve had promised his customers he would check things out: “I had heard good and bad things about food banks. One or two customers were having nothing to do with it.”
But Steve’s first visit convinced him this was a cause he could recommend his regulars support.
He went back to advise them that this was a charity which helped the truly needy:”As long as people have a referral they can get help.”
Asked why he is so passionate about the Food Bank’s work he says: “I own half the pub. I’m a businessman but I’m still a working class lad who comes from a working class family.
“I can remember my mother having to walk from Kearsley to this side of Bolton to borrow some food off my grandma, so she could put food on the table for the kids. It was a six mile walk to borrow a five pound bag of spuds and a bag of sugar.
“It was my mum and four kids having to walk because my stepdad was at work. Some were in the pram and I was walking beside it.”
He continues: “As a working class lad you know how difficult it is yourself. Everybody has hard times at some stage.
“I’ve worked 41 years in the (licensed) trade. When I was in the Food Bank I saw two lads I know have been in the trade over the years. I know they were grafters and they had been laid off.
“For me that brought it home. They couldn’t provide for their family because they couldn’t find work We’re just coming to the back of a 10 year recession which hasn’t helped.”
The food bank at the LW Storehouse at the Living Waters church in Chorley operates out of a church cellar which is damp, cramped and after seven years there is a desperate need for new premises.
The fundraising campaign Project Feed Chorley is a joint initiative between our sister paper the Chorley Guardian, Chorley Football Club and community radio station Chorley FM. Its aim is to raise £20,000 to help the food bank construct a new building on the church car park. It is also hoped tor raise sufficient to also fund £20 Christmas food vouchers for Foodbank clients.
Each month more than a hundred families rely on help from the LW Storehouse.
Co-ordinator Carol Halton says the current facilities in the damp church cellar are not good for volunteers either. She said: “It’s damp and it smells, especially in winter.”
The low ceilings mean taller volunteers have to crouch down. Dehumidifiers run all the time to prevent food going mouldy and improve conditions for helpers. A better building will also enable the food bank to store more food.
Both Mary and Steve are backing Project Feed Chorley.
Mary said: “They are amazing the people who do the job they do – going down to the cellar everything is low and damp and cold. It’s a very worthy cause.”
Steve confirms that the Food Bank desperately needs better premises.
He said access to the store is awkward meaning taller people, including himself, “duck and dive” .
Steve also receives donations of food and says thanks to contacts in the wholesale industry he often gets supplies for the food bank donated or at very affordable prices.
The pub runs a small shop with proceeds going to the Food Bank,
The couple previously had the Railway pub in Chorley and Applejack’s nightclub and Steve estimates that in the last 20 years more than £100,000 has been raised for different charities.
They are confident regulars will nonce again be generous .
As Steve notes: “We’ve a fabulous clientele – whatever we do we’re supported. It’s something close to everyone’s heart ”
To the wider public he says: “Please help if you can - you never know, one of these days you might need help yourself.”
Three ticketed events will raise funds for the appeal:
* Kids Sing Christmas – pupils from local schools sing favourite songs on December 5 in Chorley Town Hall
* Chorley Football Club has a Christmas shopping event on December 11 where the fee for stallholders is £15
* On December 13, a Retro Christmas party will be held at the Club. Full details are available via the Chorley FM facebook page.