Playing pool in pyjamas gives charity a big boost | Oxford Times | 19 May 2015

From the Oxford Times, 19 May 2015 (story by Banbury reporter Hannah Somerville).

SPENDING 12 hours in the pub in your pyjamas might be some people’s idea of a decadent Saturday.

Not so for regulars at The Bell in Crowmarsh Gifford, who held a marathon pool tournament and exercise bike spinathon in the name of a charity close to their hearts.

About 10 locals in pyjama bottoms took part in the event for the ME Association, which funds research into myalgic encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

The tournament was set up by pub managers Kat and Tony Gower.

Mrs Gower, 30, was diagnosed with the condition last July. She said: “Because of my ME, I now spend a lot of time in my pyjamas, so when we started talking about a pool tournament I thought it would be fun to get the players to wear theirs.”

Mrs Gower has run the Bell for about four years. Following a bad bout of flu in December 2013, she found herself unable to shake off exhaustion and aching limbs.

Usually a sporty person, after her diagnosis she had to cut back her working hours from 80 to 30 per week.

She said: “That’s a massive adjustment. When you work in the pub trade it’s a lifestyle you adapt to. We wanted to raise money for the ME association. I love fundraising.”

Both the Gowers are veteran fundraisers and have undertaken charity treks in Jordan and Nepal for Macmillan Cancer Support, for which they have raised £15,400 in the past two years.

Saturday’s smaller-scale event aimed to raise £400 but by early afternoon online donations had passed £630.

With the pool tournament in full swing, team captain Martin Pace took a turn on the exercise bike. He said: “I thought as we were on the team, as team captain it was a duty. But it’s not one I mind doing.

“It’s nice to be able to support the pub and Kat on a regular basis, but even better when it’s for charity, especially incorporating a hobby that I love.”

Local groundworker Roy Bumpers, who wore Despicable Me pyjamas and has frequented The Bell for 29 years, said: “Tony and Kat are some of the best landlords we’ve had.

“I was asked to come by Kat on Facebook and made sure I wasn’t working.”

With Wallingford Food Festival drawing in the crowds over the road and Steven Gerrard’s last home match for Liverpool screened that afternoon, the team’s efforts were a resounding success. They raised £405 through collections on the day, making the total raised in person and online £1,036.

A Justgiving page is still online and any late donations are welcomed. To donate visit justgiving.com/Katnap/

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