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30th January 2024

Craft Union Community Toy Appeal Spreads Kindness and Cheer Nationwide

Wrapping up a fantastic year of community giving, Craft Union pubs across the UK joined forces during the festive season to spread joy by donating Christmas gifts and supplies to children and their families through the company’s Toy Appeal last December.

Launched in 2019, the group-wide initiative has gained support from Craft Union pubs each year, as they aim to make a positive impact on their local communities and charitable organisations nationwide.

The 2023 Toy Appeal saw participation from over 120 pubs, resulting in the donation of nearly 2,000 sacks and hampers. Impressively, the scheme raised a remarkable £32,000 in cash, which was then distributed among charities nominated by the pubs themselves.

Antonia Walsh, Head of Marketing for Craft Union, said: “It is fantastic to see Craft Union pubs unite to make a difference for their communities this Christmas. Almost 2,000 children and families have benefitted from the Toy Appeal and hundreds more through the money raised. Thank you to all the pub operators that rallied their teams and showed generosity and community spirit in spades this Christmas, they are a credit to the Craft Union group.”

The achievement was a team effort, however, some pubs deserve a special mention. The New Inn in Keynsham, Bristol, collected the most sacks out of any individual pub, donating 250 to the cause, as well as the Garden House in Norwich, which raised the most funds with their spectacular donation of £5,000 and 100 sacks containing 1,000 presents.

Among the donations of sacks and hampers were thousands of toys, large and small, food and drink supplies, selection boxes, instruments, sweets and clothes. Each pub chose the recipients of their gifts and presents were distributed to a vast array of children’s wards, nurses, the elderly, homeless shelters, charities, food banks, children with disabilities and local families in need.

Craft Union, the winner of the 2022 Best Community Pub Operator award, is part of Stonegate Group and raised £800,000 for charities in 2023. Craft Union will be launching its ‘Make a Million’ campaign in February to aim for the £1,000,000 fundraising mark in 2024 and every pub within the group will have a charity partner to support in the year ahead.



About Stonegate Group

Stonegate Group is the largest pub company in the UK.  Its portfolio is comprised of over 4,500 sites, split across managed, operator led and leased and tenanted businesses.

The managed pubs division, which employs over 16,000 people, is split into Branded and Traditional pubs, bars and venues. Branded is comprised of: Slug & Lettuce, Popworld, Be At One and the Venues division. Traditional (unbranded) pubs are made up of: Proper Pubs, Pub & Dining and Social Pub & Kitchen.

The leased and tenanted estate, Stonegate Pub Partners, is made up of over 3,000 diverse sites whilst operator led Craft Union is currently made up of over 500 community pubs.



  • Great British Pub Awards – Stonegate Group Pub Partners’ Pub of the Year, Best Pub to Watch Sport, Community Hero
  • BII’s National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs): HR Manager of the Year (Jemelle Bish), Best Apprenticeship Training Programme (ATOP)
  • Publican Awards – Best Community Operator (Craft Union Pub Company)


  • Licensed Trade Charity Awards   raising awareness through fundraising
  • Great British Pub Awards – Stonegate Group Pub Partners’ Pub of the Year, Best Pub to Watch Sport
  • MCA Retailers’ Retailer Awards – The Hero Award (Suzanne Baker)


  • Great British Pub Awards – Feeding the Community, Community Mindfulness & Ei Publican Partnerships Pub of the Year
  • REBA Employee Wellbeing Awards – Best New Wellbeing Strategy (5000+ staff)
  • Publican Awards – Best Pub Employer (501+ employees)
  • Publican Awards – Best Community Operator (Craft Union Pub Company)


  • BII’s National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs): HR Manager of the Year, Lee Woolley (2019); Best Managed Company for Training; Lifetime Achievement Award for Chairman, Ian Payne (2016)
  • CGA Insight Hero and Icon Awards (two awards): Icon Award   Ian Payne MBE, Business Leader, Simon Longbottom (2019)
  • UK Hospitality’s Dusk ‘til Dawn Late Night Awards (two awards) – Icon Award (Ian Payne MBE), Best Marketing and Promotions Award (2019);  Best Service & Team (2018)
  • Great British Pub Awards – Best LGBTQ+ Pub (2019); Best LGBTQ+ and Best Sports Pub (2018); Best Pub Garden, Best Entertainment and Best Sports Pub (2017); Best Sports Pub (2016);
  • BII Scotland Awards   Best Operator for Training (2019)
  • Retailers’ Retailer of the Year (two awards): Lifetime Achievement Award, Ian Payne MBE;  Investor of the Year   TDR Capital (2019); Investor of the Year: TDR Capital (2017)
  • Menu Innovation & Development Awards (MIDAS) (two awards): Best Menu, Premium High Street Pub: Slug & Lettuce; Best Menu, Town & City Pub: Walkabout (2019);  Premium High Street Pub: Town Pub & Kitchen (2017); Best New Concept:  Missoula, Montana Bar & Grill (2014); City and Bar Dining: Slug and Lettuce (2013)
  • Publican Awards (five awards): Best Community Pub Operator, Best Pub Employer (501+ employees), Best Managed Pub Company (51+ sites), Best Drinks Offer, Business Leader of the Year   Chief Executive, Simon Longbottom (2019); Best Late Night Operator (2018); Best Managed Pub Company; Best Late Night Operator, plus highly commended   Best Employer 501+ employees (2017);  Business Leader of the Year, Chairman Ian Payne (2014); Best Pub Employer 51+ sites (2013)
  • British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA)   Chairman’s Award (2018)
  • Licensed Trade Charity: Outstanding Corporate Contribution Award (2018)
  • APPBG PUBAID Corporate Charity Fundraiser Award (2018)
  • Scottish Training Federation: Best Large Employer  (2016)
  • HR Excellence Awards: Best Learning and Development Strategy (2016)
  • HR Distinction Awards: Innovation for Digital & Social Media (2016); People Development (2015); Innovative Use of Technology (2014)

Contact: Elisabeth Osmand,

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