Missing Friday night pints at his local in lockdown, Matthew Gray decided to have a couple of cans with a neighbour at the front of his home in Heath and Reach.
And as more people joined in, he turned it into “The Driveway Arms”, somewhere people were welcome to stop by for a socially distanced drink and chat.
“It meant everybody could keep in touch,” smiles Matthew, 35, from Heath and Reach, Bedfordshire. “It kept people’s spirits up and gave them something to look forward to. It’s really brought us closer as a community.”
We partnered with the Halifax to find Britain’s Best Neighbours, in villages, towns and cities across the country, inviting people to nominate those who have stepped up to support others. Every winner receives £1,000 in Love to Shop vouchers and their nominator gets £250 worth.
And what we’ve found are some truly inspirational stories – just like award-winner Matthew and his pub.
The father-of-three says: “It began with me and a couple of friends, but more people started to come across. We had a bit of wood that we turned into a pub sign and hung below our outside light, and every Friday we had a theme. We had a BBQ, fish and chips and, when there was a big football game on, we put the telly in the front garden.
“We even put a dartboard on the wall.”
Tony Markland, who nominated Matthew, says: “Without The Driveway Arms we’d have felt a lot more isolated. It gave a sense of normality.”
Good neighbours have never been more needed, or more appreciated, than they have been in 2020.
Even the smallest acts of neighbourly kindness have made a real difference to so many people’s lives this year, which is why the Halifax is helping to say the biggest of thank yous.
Local lockdown heroes have gone above and beyond to keep our communities going in uncertain times and now we’re shining a well-deserved spotlight on them by celebrating Britain’s Best Neighbours.