It'll come as no surprise to hear that 2023 has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry; still recovering from the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis to boot, pubs all over the country have struggled to stay afloat. But here at The Swan, with the help of all our fabulous volunteers and patrons we have seen no end to the fun and laughter at our great Community Pub! It seems fitting to reflect back on a great year ... see more detail and many more photos in the extensive Events Diary on our website by clicking the buttons below each monthly below.
January and February
After seeing in the New Year with a bang, 2023 got off to a great start with the first Pub Quiz of the year bursting at the seams. The Desperados were the worthy winners of the £25 bar tab and, two weeks later in a run of good luck, they did it once again! And newcomers “We're only here for the Raffle” actually won the raffle! How's that for a self-fulfilling prophecy?
At the end of the month, we hosted the final Charity Coffee Morning for our 2022 charity, Family Friends, for whom we raised an amazing £1,453.43 over the year, and the community began nominating and voting for a new charity for 2023.
RBWM held two public consultation meetings in the Coach House during January, about the proposed Cyclops Roundabout at the top of Mill Lane. Things got a little heated at times, but it was a great example of using The Swan's facilities for public good.
In February, two of our most popular regular events got up and running again after the festive break. At our monthly Board Games Night, local games inventor Simon hosted a great turnout of gamers who came to play a range of games new and old.
And we saw the welcome return of our popular Bingo Night! A packed Coach House were poised with their dabbers and Bill generously donated his Golden Card jackpot prize to the Renovation Fund - thanks Bill!
At the end of the month, the new 2023 Community Charity was announced as Swan Support, a great local group who work tirelessly for the swan population in Windsor and beyond. Friends of The Swan volunteers met with them to explore ideas on how we could work together during the year ahead and the first Coffee Morning was a huge success, raising the amazing total of £400!
March and April
March saw a new event at The Swan – Yoga in the Coach House! What could be more relaxing than an hour unwinding and escaping the stresses of everyday life with a little relaxation ... and a wee drink afterwards!
Students at GRC began their programme of talks from Swan Elders, with Joe Donnelly, bass player from The Silencers. Joe talked about his career and his life growing up in Glasgow with music as the thread that kept him on track, teaching students how music can play a huge part in your life.
Easter Weekend marked the end of the long dark post-Christmas period and we were blessed with good weather at the first opportunity of the year for a long weekend of fun for all the family at The Swan. There was an Easter Egg Hunt throughout the pub and volunteers helped the small people craft their Easter Bonnets. Adults enjoyed James Brown’s music and admired the new outside bar in the Cowshed, sustainably fashioned from an old staircase from the pub.
As Spring well and truly arrived, more and more turned out on a Saturday morning to join Windsor Cycle Hub's fantastic local guided rides, aimed at a different level of experience and ability each week. At the end of the month, there
May and June
May brought the national celebration of the Coronation of HM King Charles III and Queen Camila, and The Swan put on a busy weekend of events to celebrate with our VIP neighbours! We really got into the spirit of the occasion, watching the ceremony on the TVs in the pub as well as a fancy dress competition, games and crafts for the kids and a delicious commonwealth-inspired buffet. On the Monday, volunteers turned out in numbers to do a litter pick alongside our friends at Swan Support, learning all about the dangers of litter to our wildlife.
Two new regular events also got underway in May. We saw our first ever Warhammer club, where local enthusiasts turned out in numbers to support a new home for their gaming, and we hosted our first Chatter and Natter Table under the UK Chatty Café Scheme. Our table has become a great success, welcoming new people almost every week.
Toward the end of the month we began preparing for the local Pubs in Bloom competition. Volunteers cleared up the Courtyard and donated their time and lovingly nurtured plants to arrange and maintain our floral decorations ready for the competition. In the end, we didn't win but the judges commented on how lovely the courtyard looked and we all enjoyed the fruits of the team’s labours for the rest of the summer so a huge thanks to all involved.
GRC finished the half term with a very special Epic Thursday - their Big-Hearted BBQ Brunch. The courtyard was packed and the students raised over £70 for Fight Bladder Cancer. All the students mucked in and had a great time and the vibe was joyous!
In June, our monthly Mini Markets got going in earnest, with Friends of The Swan Ian and Louise producing another of their delicious BBQs, accompanied by refreshing Pimms on special from the bar. WCH started to venture further afield on their weekly rides, and the Pub Quiz jackpot continued to build!
On a sad note, it was time to say a fond farewell to Connor, our friend and assistant bar manager. Connor started at The Swan when we re-opened and was key in getting to where we are now. We miss him terribly put are delighted he has gone on to be a great success in his new role at Patch on the Plaza in town and still visits us regularly.
July and August
With the summer came the season of family events at The Swan! On 20th July we celebrated our 4th birthday! Who would believe it is four years ago since we re-opened our wee community pub? There was cake on offer so a some of the locals came together to raise a glass. Thanks go to Friends Ian & Louise Birch for arranging the cake and our oldest regular – Rene Lowe (aged 101 and a half) - for doing the honours cutting it.
The following weekend, Santa and the Grinch came to The Swan during their Summer Holidays for Christmas in July! We had laid on some music for them and also a BBQ. Kids young and old came along despite the torrential rain that we had that weekend. There was music from Mojo and Jessica Foden on the Saturday, and on Sunday Mark & Sherridan returned. The BBQ was a special with delicious Christmas Dinner wraps.
In August, our landmark summer event, Swanfest, was back! Both beer festival and family fun, with live music, entertainment for the small people, lots of guest beers, food and even world record attempts! SwanFest is our annual bit of fun for the local community and 2023 was no exception. Jessica Foden did some amazing face-painting for the kids, whilst False Bypass, Sharks in the Water, BackTrack, Riot Monkeys and The Windsor Ukulele Group all played alongside Swan regulars James Lainey and Mark & Sherridan. There was dancing. There was singing. And one or two beers and burgers consumed - the German Keller Bier proving very popular indeed. And we raised £1,500 from the raffle!
The following weekend The Swan hosted its first full wedding when regulars Rachael and David tied the knot! The weather held out and they had a magnificent affair out in The Courtyard and in The Coach House. Micky and the team transformed the place which looked terrific and we wished the happy couple all the very best for their lives together.
New to The Swan this summer was another popular community group, 'The Stitch Gang'. The group get together for a couple of hours on a Saturday in the pub to knit, crochet, cross-stich, patch work, embroider or whatever creative needlework takes their fancy! For anyone of any age with any level of skill the group was an immediate hit and has repeated every other Saturday since.
September and October
Friends of The Swan began a kitchen takeover providing light bites to feed the brain cells on Pub Quiz nights, which has proved very popular! Volunteers Lou and Ian also provided a varied menu for those who packed the pub to watch the World Cup rugby and weekend BBQs for the remaining nice weekends of the summer.
And one Saturday night, after the doors shut, a film crew descended to use the pub as a location for their latest horror short movie. A number of regulars and Friends of The Swan were roped in as extras for the overnight shoot and all had a jolly good time!
At our monthly charity event we held a Macmillan Coffee morning where together you raised an incredible £664! Sincere thanks to all the bakers, coffee drinkers and budding hairstylists who helped Micky to ‘Brave the Shave’! An even bigger thank you to all who gave so generously to this very worthy cause.
And at the end of the month Rebecca Calvert put on a special Tagine Taster event to support humanitarian aid following the Moroccan earthquake, in which she herself had been caught up whilst on holiday. An incredible £2,000 was raised, and Becca said “Thank you all so much from me and on behalf of the Moroccan people.”
As we moved into October, it was of course time for our fabulous Oktoberfest, which once again saw the community come to The Swan to enjoy German bier, food and entertainment over three days. The BBQ served up delicious bratwurst, there were plenty of draught and bottled biers and some German wine too. Mark & Sherridan played on Saturday night to a packed Courtyard, decorated beautifully and creating a really great environment.
Louise Birch hosted a special coffee morning for 'Wear It Pink' to raise money for breast cancer research and support, a charity close to her heart. David and Mike volunteered to have their chest hair rather painfully stripped in aid of the event, helping to raise £286 and making it a really memorable occasion!
As the nights began to draw in, our thoughts turned to the long winter ahead and we decided the bar was long overdue a bit of a makeover to get ready and cosy. There was lots to be done from general tidying, cleaning & organising, to painting & decorating, soft furnishing repair and more substantial DIY tasks. A huge thank you to all the volunteers who turned out to help, giving 170 hours of their time over 3 days), and to The Friends of The Swan for funding the refurb from the Renovation Fund.
And finally, over the Halloween weekend regulars came appropriately dressed up for a spooky time! On Saturday night we had a disco with DJ Micky at the deck and then on Sunday afternoon there was a brilliant performance by our very own Windsor Ukulele Group which was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
November and December
As night follows day, Bonfire Night follows Halloween, and 2023 was no exception! The Courtyard was packed from early evening all the way through despite it not being one of the warmest of evenings. Early doors it was the fire pit and sparklers, later on it was dancing and singing with a live gig from BackTrack. And not forgetting Micky’s One Pot Chilli to warm the cockles of your heart! The kids loved it and we were pleased to see so many smiling faces of all ages – another great night at The Swan.
Later in the month we recognised a true Community Hero in our midst. Dermot Goff has been voluntarily clearing the neighbourhood of litter and rubbish for more years than even he can remember, keeping our environment clean and tidy for all to enjoy! Dermot was presented with an engraved glass tankard by our Community Director, Hollie who declared him a Swan Community Hero. Thanks to Dawn and Richard who put on free tea and cake for all that came to recognise and congratulate Dermot.
We had a couple of great kitchen takeovers from Mark and ‘The Secret Chef’ this month, and the 'Not So Secret Chef', aka Micky our Pub Manager, was also in the kitchen providing a taste of his Christmas menu to come, proving he was on the ball and ready for the December rush!
In the first of our Christmas events, GRC hosted their Winter Fayre in the Courtyard on 2nd December. With a hysterical short panto for the Windsor Living Advent Calendar, some very festive stalls, food and drink, as well as games for the kids and even Santa in his grotto, the evening was a magical start to the festive season.
Later in the month, as the Big Day loomed, the Friends of The Swan Christmas Market provided another opportunity to pick up last-minute gifts from some amazing stall holders. With mulled wine, boozy hot chocolate and Micky’s infamous Turkey Dinner Wraps on offer, the night turned into a great pre-Christmas night out under the twinkling lights, with dancing to Swan favourites Sharks in the Water to round it off.
Commissioning of The Friends of The Swan Christmas card proved quite challenging this year, but we made it in time to sell out of the lovely pencil drawing of our cosy fireplace before Christmas! And for the fifth year running, Friend Miranda donated her beautifully painted Swan Baubles for sale – have you got the complete set? All proceeds from both went to the Renovation Fund giving it a nice boost to start the new year.
There was another special evening of carol singing led by St Andrew’s Rev Rosie and accompanied by the musicians of The Broom Farm Ensemble. Although cold, it was another warm festive evening with the community joining in with well known, traditional carols. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!
The following night we had a double dose of festive entertainment! First were treated to a performance from Voci, a local chamber choir, who came to entertain us in the bar with carols sung in beautiful harmonies. And then welcomed back our friends at Datchet Border Morris, who performed a range of traditional dances in the Cowshed before moving into the bar to perform their traditional Mummers Play. This had the pub totally enthralled as the various characters joined 'the stage' – a magnificent sight and a huge thanks to all those involved.
There was fun for the small people too, when Santa visited The Swan to have a festive breakfast with local children! The kids had a fantastic time as did Santa who promised to visit them all on Christmas Day. With a Ho Ho Ho! he went off to Lapland to finish packing his sleigh with Christmas presents. BTW, the brekkie was excellent too!
And finally, just 3 nights ago we held our fabulous Hogmanay Party to welcome in 2024! A heaving bar saw everyone dressed for ‘A Night at The Oscars', with the Directors' Chilli Cook Off producing great food and the fizz flowing liberally from the bar. All accompanied by our fabulous Mark and Sherridan playing all the golden oldies to get the assembled masses dancing all the way to Auld Lang Syne and beyond! See the many photos by clicking below!
So as one year closes, another begins and with a fantastic response to our recent Community Loan Offer we start it in a strong position. The Directors, staff, volunteers and students all thank you for your support in 2023 and wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year! We look forward to seeing you all very soon at our great little Community Pub!