You may have read in CAMRA’s What’s Brewing about the sad passing of Steve Staindale, Warren Yabsley’s touching eulogy was also reprinted in the latest edition (#137) of New Full Measure, the magazine published by Leeds CAMRA branch. Many have known CAMRA stalwart and Leeds CAMRA branch committee member, Steve, for a long time. I first met him at a CAMRA beer festival organising meeting at the beginning of this year. Warren describes how Steve was responsible for him becoming a key part of Leeds CAMRA, and I will offer similar sentiments. After chastising me over unkind ‘Weard Beard’ comments in a blog post he went on to prohibit me from taking any photos of him at meetings or during the 2016 beer festival set up. Mind you, he was keen to know what I was going to do with all the photos I was taking. This obviously struck a chord because a few days later he pulled me to one side and said the branch were in desperate need of a press and publicity officer and he thought I should do it; so I did. I thank him for that.
Lots of other people were also very grateful to Steve for both his friendship and support in promoting real ale and on Saturday 8th October a number of them gathered at Ridgeside Brewery in Leeds, the home of hop forward pale ales and beers from the wood, and Steve’s favourite brewery, to have a beer or two and celebrate Steve’s life. There was a good turnout at the Meanwood Road brewery from Leeds CAMRA branch, which included a large part of the branch committee.
What I didn’t know was how highly Steve was regarded in other circles, principally the supporters of Steam Rallies. Until I got talking to them, I assumed the Dorset Rats were from Dorset. How wrong could I be? The four members of this collective had travelled from Northampton and Watford, which is 186 miles from Leeds I was told by a gent with a cracking beard, and I thank them for coming all that way.
Apparently there are quite a few Dorset Rats up and down, they are often to be found accompanying their mentor and performer Dr Busker. These particular ones were close friends of Steve’s, something you could tell instantly as they all shared the same wonderfully warm eccentricity. I really enjoyed their company, and the merry chorus of ‘More beer, more beer … ‘ each time their glasses were emptied, which was frequently! They will be at Keighley & Worth Valley Music and Beer Festival on Saturday 22nd October with Dr Busker, if you want to go and meet some of them. In the meantime have a look on Youtube for some hilarious songs and accompaniment.
A big thank you has to go to Ridgeside Brewery, for hosting the event, and for donating two casks of beer: Vienna Pale and Black Night. Both were on top form, as you would expect, and expertly dispensed by brewer Juan Mendoza. The observant might have noticed from the photo that the hand pumps had grown beards, as sported by Steve and his male Dorset Rat friends, another fitting tribute to the guy with the Gandalf beard, who had one long long before hipsters were ever invented. Although no money changed hands for any beer, everyone made substantial donations to Wheatfields Hospice. This was boosted by the sale of badges made by Leeds CAMRA resident artist Christine, who had produced a collection of colourful badges with a Steve Staindale avatar, based on the profile photo from Steve’s Facebook site.
All in all a good send off for a wonderful person who will be sadly missed by lots of people in lots of places. Rest in Peace Sir.
Addendum (31-11-16) – Wheatfields hospice have confirmed that the charity collection in memory of Steve raised £346.89, which is quite amazing. Well done to all the beer lovers and friends of Steve who attended.