Still raising a glass after 40 years in town

Andy Brown and Jim Pearson celebrating 40 years of CAMRA in Warwickshire. Picture submiited
Andy Brown and Jim Pearson celebrating 40 years of CAMRA in Warwickshire. Picture submiited

Real ale lovers have reunited in Kenilworth to celebrate 40 years of friendship and look to a strong future for their club.

Over 100 eager people turned up to the town’s very first CAMRA meeting at the Virgins and Castle in August 1974.

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And to mark the occasion as the now thriving Campaign for Real Ale, six of those founders came back to celebrate and share their memories of the last 40 years.

The group is not only a social outlet for its members to enjoy brewed ales, but a national campaigner for issues surrounding public houses and their survival.

Jim Witt, area organiser for what has grown to five area branches of the club said it all started on that day in Kenilworth four decades ago.

“The group first met in Kenilworth to address concerns about the future of real ale in Warwickshire, and things just went from there,” he said,

“As members grew, we created more branches but we had a lot of interest right from the start and are still growing.

“On Saturday, we had six of those original members back to relive stories, it really was a thoroughly enjoyable night.”

Among those were real ale lovers, David Capron, Andy Brown and Jim Parsons who have formed such strong friendships within the society after turning up for the very first meeting, they are still part of the foundation today.

Speaking to the KWN at the opening in 1974, eager new member, Andy Brown explained that a very necessary function of the branch was to “preserve the existing draught beer houses and to encourage breweries to turn away from keg beer”.

It was all about preserving “great British beer” and protect the locally run community pubs at the heart of communities.

And the goals of the society have not changed as the club now hopes to pull in younger members and ensure the local branches can grow for another 40 years to do good work.

Mr Witt explained: “Our next target in Kenilworth is to get new members and younger members in to keep it going.

“We have more members and this number is rising but need these members to be active to continue the branch.”

The branch is affiliated with the University of Warwick’s Real Ale Society and the two come together for meetings and socials in the first step to the future.

Since the first meeting, membership grew and the original Coventry and North Warwickshire society split into five across Stratford, Leamington and Warwick.

And with over 800 members now signed up in the area, there is a chance that Kenilworth could become its own branch.

For information on CAMRA and how to get involved, visit