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Heroic queer bar owners donate hundreds of pounds of gender-neutral toys for families struggling this Christmas

Emma Powys Maurice December 8, 2020
Queer bars show Christmas spirit with gender-neutral toys for needy kids

Le Village Brighton and Marine Tavern packed bags of toys for children in need (Facebook/Regency Tavern)

Two Brighton gay bar owners showed their community the true spirit of Christmas by donating hundreds of pounds of gender-neutral toys to needy families.

It’s been a tough year for many in the entertainment industry, but that didn’t stop Simon Ebers and Lee Cockshott opening their wallets for those who were worse off.

Ebers, who runs the Regency Tavern, and Cockshott, owner of Le Village, kicked off World Aids Day by handing out £500 worth of gender-neutral toys and selection boxes to parents in poverty who were unable to afford presents for their children this year.

They’ve also donated Christmas Sunday roasts at one of their venues for 30 lucky families, determined that no one should go hungry on Christmas Day.

“We understand this is an especially difficult time for families and we wanted to give something back to the local community,” Ebers told GScene. “The presents aren’t just for LGBT+ families, but for anyone who is struggling.”

The pair were inspired to act after hearing about parents who were unable to feed their children amid the pandemic, let alone buy Christmas presents.

“Lots of people are having a bad time, and I saw a Facebook post asking people not to start bragging about their Christmas presents and shopping this year,” Cockshott told the Argus. “It’s going to be difficult for a lot of families with some barely able to pay rent.

“Simon and I thought that even though we have lost money over the past year, we are still in a better position. So we have put £500 worth together for presents. We haven’t done it before, but thought this year it is a small gesture to help.”

Both men lost about five months of trading this year and have witnessed the closure of several other LGBT+ venues around them. But they knew they were still in a better position to help than most.

“I know around here there are lots of people struggling,” Cockshott said. “I have lived here for ten years so it is not just my business, it’s my community, so it makes you feel a little bit responsible.”

The gay bar owners handed out the Christmas gifts over six days at the beginning of December, and they insisted on no means tests, trusting that only those in genuine need would come forward.

More: Brighton, Charity, Christmas, gay bar

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