It took a while to happen but, when it did, it was a very worthwhile event. Readers will recall that the John Young Memorial Award (JYMA) for 2020 was awarded to John Hatch. The actual presentation however, for obvious reasons, was delayed until 6 September. Even then, COVID still intervened with Torquil Sligo-Young, who has presented the award since its inception, absent in self isolation. He was missed and we wish him well.
Torquil’s substitute was Derek Prentice, now of Wimbledon Brewery, a former colleague of John’s at Young’s and a previous winner of the award. The presentation took place on the roof garden of the Crane in Wandsworth, ironically, one of the pubs that Young’s has recently sold to Punch Pubs. Despite being drowned out by the occasional helicopter, Derek introduced John with great warmth, described their time working together and handed him the shield and his certificate. Proceedings were overseen by CAMRA’s regional director for Greater London, Geoff Strawbridge, who managed to keep out of the photographs.
There was a good turnout of CAMRA members from across London, together with a number of guests. No one present can have failed to be moved by John’s acceptance speech. As he explained, John Young (Mr John) was his hero and he was deeply proud to receive an award which carried that name. John paid tribute to many aspects of Mr John’s life, including his war service and his love of shire horses, a breed that Mr John helped to preserve.
John was nominated for the award by both CAMRA’s South West London branch and West London Branch in acknowledgement of his single-handed efforts in maintaining brewing on the historic Ram Brewery site during the fourteen year hiatus between Young’s departing and Sambrook’s moving in. John also mentioned that Derek had helped him with the initial planning and that the operation had Mr John’s blessing. Indeed, John promised him that he would keep brewing on the site ‘until his dying breath’. For the full story, see Christine Cryne’s joyous article here.
John’s time as site manager for Greenland, the developers (who encouraged John’s brewing activities), has ended and he now works for Sambrook’s. Happily, John is still brewing and no fewer than five of his beers were available at Sambrook’s recent Beer by the River event.
In addition to Derek and John, the presentation was attended by two other JYMA winners, Michael Hardman, CAMRA founding member and former Young’s press officer, and Duncan Sambrook, the man who now has custody of the site. A photograph of the four was a must.
The John Young Memorial Award was suspended for 2021. Instead we held the competition for our Lockdown Hero of Heroes award.