‘Genuine kindness and compassion’: The Angel & Crown pub receives Richmond’s 2020 Community Heroes Award

The Angel & Crown pub has been awarded the 2020 Community Heroes Award for biggest business contribution after its inspirational community work during the pandemic.

The 400-year-old pub was among 200 individuals and organisations nominated by Richmond Council for various awards, but stood out having provided 50 meals a day to rough sleepers at the height of the first lockdown.

This comes after pub and landlord Nick Botting were recognised nationally in September 2020 in the hospitality ‘lockdown heroes’ awards for helping over 5000 people during the lockdown.

Botting said: “I’m pretty humbled and amazed that we got the award because there’s a lot of people doing some amazing work, so I’m very pleased for everybody.

“My mantra is that pubs are the centre of a community, it’s where everybody meets and the unique thing is that a multi-millionaire and someone with no money all drink in the same place, that’s why I love it.

“It’s very easy to take, take, take all the time but for me and my staff it’s vitally important that we help out.”

Botting took matters into his own hands after noticing several homeless centres across Richmond and Twickenham had been forced to shut because of the pandemic, leaving no facilities to provide hot food for the homeless.

The pub teamed up with local homeless charities to provide a ‘grab-and-go’ food service through its window, which it was able to carry out because of its unused kitchen facilities.

The Angel & Crown has since continued its work in the community with breakfast sandwiches, Christmas packages and weekend meals.

Alongside handing out other aid such as toiletries, travel passes, clothing and sleeping bags daily, Botting has also pushed several homeless people in the direction of SPEAR, a charity which houses rough sleepers.

Liam Bignell, who has been involved and assisted Mr Botting in the process from the start, cited the community’s generosity as a big factor in the pub’s successful lockdown initiative.

Bignell said: “It was such an incredible experience, the whole community came together.

“Funding it wasn’t particularly difficult as people were more than happy to help as soon as they realised what we were doing.

“During the first lockdown people would be on their daily walks or going to the nearby Tesco to do their food shopping and they’d just give us their donations on their way, or send money to our PayPal account.”

Another of the pub’s partners is Shepherd’s Star, an independent initiative founded by Desiree Shepherd which helped deliver donations and baked goods to Botting, who dealt with cooking and preparing the meals.

Shepherd said: “I was introduced to Nick and Liam prior to the lockdown to work on another programme and I very quickly saw something very unique to what I’d experienced with other businesses.

“Since the lockdown I’ve seen them rise up to meet the needs of those on the margins of our community with genuine kindness, compassion and empathy for community in a way that is rare.

“To go out of their comfort zone for the benefit of others is why I stand alongside them and we are now putting together an Easter celebration grab-and-go with a beautiful roast and trimmings.

“Nick is enabling the whole community to give through the pub which has a heart and I love partnering with him.”

Featured image credit: Liam Bignell

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