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Huntly pub landlord pulls in thousands of pounds for good causes


By Pat Scott

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Mark Webster, front, supported by regulars at the Royal Oak continued to raise money for local groups and charities when his pub was closed due to the pandemic. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Mark Webster, front, supported by regulars at the Royal Oak continued to raise money for local groups and charities when his pub was closed due to the pandemic. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

A HUNTLY publican can't wait to get his bar open again and not just to serve up pints.

Six years after taking on the tenancy, at the Royal Oak Mark Webster and his team were on target to reach £20,000 from their charity efforts by the end of 2020 but Covid came along and the bar had to close.

But Mark and business partner Sarah Jane Watson did not allow the lockdown to stop them and as they quickly became aware of groups and charities struggling to raise money because of the pandemic they put their heads together to come up with ideas which could be organised online.

First up was the Poppy Scotland appeal which could not distribute collection cans as usual.

The Royal Oak stepped up to the mark with a hamper for gin and other goodies selling lucky squares at £5 each which raised £270.

In the festive countdown, behind closed doors, they ran non stop lucky square hamper draws and bonus ball money spinners on the Royal Oak Facebook page which raised £900 for Huntly ASDitude - the charity which supports children with autism and other conditions.

Mark Webster supported by regulars at the Royal Oak continued to raise money for local groups and charities when his pub was closed due to the pandemic. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Mark Webster supported by regulars at the Royal Oak continued to raise money for local groups and charities when his pub was closed due to the pandemic. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Mark, (30) said: "We didn't quite make the £20,000 target by the end of 2020 but we weren't far off at £19,711. We have started a '100 club' with prizes for members while raising cash for charity which will be paid out at the end of June and I think it will continue beyond that time and make regular donations to good causes."

But Mark's fund raising isn't contained to ventures at the pub - he co-ordinates Huntly and District Darts League and set up a virtual duck race, donating proceeds to Huntly Foodbank.

Mark explained: "After the outage of the gas in the town we knew the Foodbank was busy trying to meet demand for food parcels so the league donated £300 to them.

"It was Easter that week and after I had dropped the money off I got a really nice message from Wilma Duffus, the foodbank organiser. She told me she was going to use some of the money to buy Easter eggs for the children that had been referred in Huntly. So being like I am, I suggested we donated some Easter eggs to the Foodbank so we handed over 20 eggs.

"It was really interesting to chat to Wilma as I really never realised how busy they are at Huntly Foodbank. There's a lot more need for its services than folk would ever imagine and I would urge people to donate to them or pop something into the trolleys in Tesco and Asda.

"I am always thinking about what we can do next and now we are open again we can really get going. We always try to help one or two charities each year and you can't beat our local community when it comes to charity fundraising.

"Our regulars are amazing with buying up raffles, lucky squares or even horses. When you interact on the Facebook page Huntly comes together every time and things sell very quickly. "


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