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11th May 2012

Cheers celebrates the Diamond Jubilee

Pubs magazine Cheers North East has marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with an appropriately majestic edition. The monthly publication, conceived, reared and “given away” by Alastair Gilmour (it’s free), takes a beery eye to 60 years of QEII – with the staff photographer’s granny even taking a royal role on the front cover.

Also in issue number 20, Cheers goes into PotY Training – what makes a good pub a great one – and visits pubs that lie in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, escorted by two reborn Roman soldiers, Antinus and Decimus.

Readers also hear from regular foreign correspondent CzechBeerMan, who observes that at one time the most important buildings in any city were its brewery, railway station and post office, in that order.

“Now the biggest building in my native city is unfortunately a British Tesco hypermarket,” he writes. Nevertheless, he files a brilliant report from the Poutnik Brewery in Pelhrimov.

“Cheers is bouncing,” says Alastair Gilmour. “We enjoy brilliant support locally from breweries, specialist suppliers and the pubs themselves. The magazine gets terrific feedback and I’ve even had customers jostling over them when I’ve dropped them off. Yep, I help with the deliveries – you have to be prepared to get your sleeves up as well as doing all this poncey writing stuff.”

Ten thousand copies of Cheers are delivered monthly to 220-plus pubs, 16 tourist information centres and dozens of specialist outlets in the North East of England. Plans to extend the brand into other regions are well advanced.

“This wouldn’t be particularly easy, but the key to Cheers’ success is its ‘ownership’,” says Alastair. “People are fiercely proud of where they live, work – and go to the pub – so they have taken Cheers to heart. Wherever we go next will reflect that wholeheartedly, but we also have to keep our focus on the North East.”

Nearly a third of England’s working-age population live in the North. An explosion of entrepreneurial activity over the past decade has led to a recent report by think-tank IPPR which concluded that if the North of England were a European state it would be the ninth largest economy in the EU, ahead of Sweden, Denmark and Belgium.

“Being aware of that sort of thing is frustrating for us,” says Alastair. “As I maintain, the support here is unbelievable, but national brewers and pub companies have been particularly slow to grasp the potential and advantage of Cheers and to get behind us with advertising and sponsorship – with one or two enlightened exceptions.

“We’re dedicated to pubs and everything that goes into them and comes out of them, whether it’s a local microbrewer’s seasonal ale or a global giant’s latest initiative. Cheers is democratic. Pubs are democratic.

“While we make the most of whimsy, like we have with Antinus and Decimus – when faced with 14 pub reviews over five pages, you have to be creative – we also examine more serious issues, such as live televised football, supermarket pricing and the effects of social media, so it’s a real solid mix and a great read.

“And, we don’t have editorial meetings in the Cheers office, we decamp to the pub.”

*The Diamond Jubilee issue of Cheers North East can be viewed at or contact editor Alastair Gilmour: (or 07930 144 846) for a “hard” copy and for more information.