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Moray gig promoter hits national headlines over 1p pub meals


By Lorna Thompson

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A FORMER Lossiemouth man has hit UK headlines after selling 1p meals to keep his pub business alive and his staff in jobs through a local lockdown.

Pub owner Andy Macdonald (36) is the organiser behind various Moray gigs over the years through his events company, YBD Music, including a fundraiser to help the Lossiemouth East Bridge replacement appeal in 2019.

Andy was forced to focus solely on his Lancashire pub, "Ships and Giggles", in Preston's student quarter, after the pandemic wiped his planned events off the 2020 calendar.

On October 16, the city was placed under the UK Government's Tier Three lockdown classification, which requires pubs that don't serve substantial meals to close.

So in a desperate attempt to keep his pub open during the local lockdown, Andy is selling meals for 1p.

He initially served up food for free, but was told by Preston Council officials that he was flouting rules by not charging. So he decided to charge 1p.

Pub owner Andy Macdonald (2nd from left) with the band Toploader at the gig he organised at Lossiemouth Town Hall in April 2019. Picture: Liam Paul McBride.
Pub owner Andy Macdonald (2nd from left) with the band Toploader at the gig he organised at Lossiemouth Town Hall in April 2019. Picture: Liam Paul McBride.

He said: "My promotion events business has suffered a lot and this has cost me a lot.

"I did masses of work to finally reopen the pub after lockdown but saw a turnover drop of 60 per cent.

"Then we were told we had to close – so we decided to offer free food to keep the pub alive."

Andy, who has owned the pub since 2012, admits he is doing whatever he can to get round the regulations – and says that by offering the 1p meals he has been able to take on extra staff, boosting his workforce from 12 to 20 employees.

Andy said he had "nothing to lose" by taking the action.

He said: "I am abiding by the guidelines – but I am looking for any way I can to keep the business going and keep my staff in jobs.

"We've had overwhelming support and the story exploded, with the BBC, national newspapers and a Channel 4 documentary picking up on our 1p meals.

"We have not just been able to save jobs but we have been able to create twice as many.

"We are fully booked almost every night with families, the elderly, students and even people within the council.

Andy Macdonald's pub in Preston, Ship and Giggles, where he is selling meals for 1p.
Andy Macdonald's pub in Preston, Ship and Giggles, where he is selling meals for 1p.

"We've had so much praise from families who can't afford to go for meals with their kids. There are so many people who are benefiting from this."

Andy is calling for more UK Government support for the hospitality industry.

He added: "What we are doing at Ships and Giggles is trying to shine some light during these mentally and financially dark times. I, like many others, have suffered mentally, but this week I’ve been happy with a massive sense of achievement and satisfaction.

"I’m not trying to offend anyone and I’m not doing anything for the wrong reasons.

"For the past few years I’ve had a great relationship with the council and licensing, and I really hope that they will work with me in order to help me remain open, and keep all my team in jobs, and help the public enjoy socialising in the safest way possible."

Andy, whose dad and step-mum live in Lossiemouth, has brought a number of big-name acts northwards. His north of Scotland debut event, Moray’s Dancing in the Moonlight, brought British rock band Toploader to Lossiemouth Town Hall in April last year.

Meanwhile Andy's planned Scooty & the Skyhooks concert at Lossiemouth Town Hall has been rescheduled for May 29 next year and a date is being finalised for the Animals and Friends gig, both of which were cancelled due to the pandemic.



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