“Last time, on ‘BOW SELECTA’…” Cue a montage of images – me in Robin Hood kit, Nottingham Castle gates with a big ‘Closed’ sign on them, me looking a bit sad in an obviously staged and uncomfortable photoshoot at the Pearson Centre, Beeston, all accompanied by a gravelly American voiceover… “Tim wrote about bereavement, male mental health in Beeston and the potential reopening of Nottingham Castle. Now, in the explosive climax to that article he reveals all…”

That’d be *great*, right? So, having promised to get stuck in and find out more about support groups in our lovely town what did I do, what did I find out and is it any good?

Well the Castle is definitely reopening and… yea, I’m not allowed to say much more about that. Yet. <grin>

As for the mental health groups in Beeston – no idea, I did nothing. Shocking, I know. Not because I didn’t want to, admittedly – but because I instead ended up talking with a few friends who’d had some really horrendous issues to deal with recently (including a couple of them suddenly losing their long-term partners, for instance) and they said they found talking to me helpful – and that in turn helped me too, because talking is both important and cathartic.

I’d had some very lovely people help me though when I was out of my mind with grief about losing my late wife Sal; family, friends and even via some lovely messages from strangers on the internet (you see there *are* nice people out there, truly) – and not just in the first few weeks or months but in an ongoing way. I’m still hugely thankful, overwhelmed and indebted to them for it; nearly six years later I think I’m just about OK, mostly – I still have bad days, broken-hearted days and sometimes really dark days, but with their help and that of our beautiful baby girl Scarlett (now a bouncing, happy and enthusiastic *nine*, and a complete joy) I’m ‘getting there’, as they say. Mostly.

But to bring this back to Beeston I’d like to tell you of a real act of true kindness by a local company that will soon be playing a much bigger part in our town’s social life.

As Nottingham’s official Robin Hood I’ve made a lot of friends over the years and one of Sal’s and my favourite annual occurrences were beer festivals – of course the CAMRA Nottingham Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival (or the ‘Me Festival’ as I jokingly call it) but also the Lincoln Green Brewery Beer Festival at their brewery in sunny Hucknall. Sal and I would turn up in full medieval kit to mingle, pose for photos and (of course) enjoy some of their fabulous beers. Scarlett used to come with us too, obviously not partaking but still enjoying it and definitely taking the limelight from us on many an occasion!

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when after Sal died I got a call from Lincoln Green asking me if I’d like to come in to the brewery to help brew a beer. I recall it clearly, I was face down on my bed, having managed to get up and get Scarlett ready for and taken her to nursery; I’d just collapsed back down and wanted nothing to do with people, the world – or anything, to be honest. But I said yes because they were such nice people and I thought I should probably force myself to do something. And then I decided I couldn’t. And then that I would, then wouldn’t – you get the picture.

On the day and literally right at the last minute I finally decided I would go, although it was a damned close thing. I rocked up at the brewery, to be met by the wonderful Anthony Hughes who owns it, the equally excellent Anthony Hewitt who persuaded me to come and several others. I was asked to pour Beeston made honey into the brew, which was actually great fun – and then I went home, thinking no more of it but very grateful for everyone’s friendship and support.

It was only sometime later, on the day of the big CAMRA Nottingham Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival up at Nottingham Castle I was told what unbeknownst to me I’d actually helped to create – Lincoln Green had brewed a special honey beer (using the honey I’d poured in) specially for the festival and named it after Sal in her honour – ‘Sally Pollard’s Honey’d Amber’, a gloriously tasty beer she’d have absolutely loved. Not only that, they’d secretly invited three other breweries to brew other beers named after her too. I was blown away by everyone’s affection, compassion and love for Sal (and Scarlett and me) and I still am – it was a genuine act of true kindness.

And now, as you can read elsewhere in this issue, Lincoln Green are soon opening two separate premises in what was The White Lion pub right in the centre of Beeston and I for one cannot wait to see what they’re going to do with the place, how they grow, become another successful part of Beeston and become involved in the community with the same amount of heart they showed me. So I know I’m biased, but I’ll certainly be welcoming them with open arms and most definitely raising a glass (or two) to and with them as well.

And I know for sure #SalWouldApprove 🙂