Lockdown heroes: The Black Horse in Aylestone

The Black Horse in Aylestone is spreading happiness and keeping its community entertained and supported during this testing time.

Alan Merryweather and Sarah Cunnington, business owners of The Black Horse in Aylestone, Leicestershire were stranded in Tenerife as the coronavirus crisis started to take hold in the UK.

“Being in isolation in our hotel room gave us time to think about how we and our pub could help our community through this when we got back. We could see what was happening in Tenerife and knew it wouldn’t be long before it started happening at home,” says Alan.

When Alan and Sarah finally arrived back, all pubs had been ordered to close.

“We decided we wanted to help people take a little break from all of this and spread a little normality and happiness.”

The Black Horse – Great Food Club’s Classic Pub of the Year 2019/20 – is known for its innovative entertainment programme, including Sunday Bike Ride Club, quiz nights, Cheese Club and comedy nights. So it didn’t surprise regulars when it started putting on virtual events.

“We think it’s important to keep spirits up and bring the community together,” says Alan. “So, we took our pub online.”

Alan and Sarah have organised virtual pub quizzes, comedy shows, jam nights and a book club. And people from all over the country are joining in, as well as their regulars.

“We are learning and improving as we go but we have been overwhelmed by the support. It’s amazing to see so many people getting involved. We miss the pub and this has really helped us, too,” says Sarah.

You can even join Alan and Sarah online every Friday for ‘Lunch with the Landlord’ where they invite you for a good old chat. And on St George’s Day (April 23) they plan to host an online music festival, featuring live performances throughout the day.

“We’d like to thank our loyal customers and community, who have supported us over the nine years we’ve been at the pub,” says Alan. “Aylestone has a great community vibe and we are happy we are able to give a little something back.”

The Black Horse is also supporting its community by sourcing food boxes and hosting a food bank in the garden (with The Emerald Centre) on Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, for people who are struggling to get provisions.

Furthermore, Alan and Sarah help co-ordinate ‘Aylestone Help and Support Network’ – a Facebook group set up to support people in the Aylestone community.

Find out more on The Black Horse’s Facebook page and website.

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.