I have worked at The Hand in Hand on and off for over the last ten years. I first came here when my friend said that he knew of a little place that sold Cherry Beer, and being fresh of the train from Newcastle, I hadn’t really heard of Cherry Beer before…but by god it was delicious! As a treat I would pop in for half a cherry beer as I couldn’t find it anywhere else. That’s when I became friends with Matty the manager at the time. Matty is simply a beautiful human. From what I understand he really brought The Hand in Hand back from the brink. I loved the place so much I asked for a job, which helped me out of a few scrapes. Turned out Matty and I were also bass players, so would often be on the same circuit performing. I think it may have been Dai Reese (his best mate and assistant manager living upstairs at the time) that suggested getting a piano and putting some live jazz on a Sunday. Matty and Dai has seen Sara [Oschlag], Dan [Sheppard] and Jason [Henson] performing outside of English’s and Invited them to perform on Sunday’s. That was ten years ago now. The ten year anniversary party was brilliant! I cooked up a huge gumbo, and everyone was taking turns performing (I even sang a tune!) I loved that night. Sunday’s are super special here. When maybe everywhere else folk are turning in early for work on Monday, we have a little corner of Brighton that is going crackers and soaking up some sweet jazz. The jazz community are just brilliant. I see the same wonderful faces every week and it really feels like big family. The Hand in Hand is a very special place in a lot of people’s hearts. It’s been here over 200 years now I do believe, and I’m sure her walls have seen a thing or two! Matty made this an incredible place for so many, I spent my early 20’s here, so it was a huge privilege to be able to buy it three years ago with my husband Clark. The last three years have been quite intense. Starting up the brewery with our business partner Jack Tavarè (the brewmaster) and getting married. It has been quite the shift in lifestyle (living above a pub can be tricky as you never really switch off) but The Hand in Hand has become such a massive part of my life. The customers are our family, and we really love and look after each other. When someone may be a little down on their luck, alone or they’ve had the best day ever, they know they can always come here and share it with us….
Words: Jennifer Left, owner at The Hand in Hand, Brighton
Photo: Lisa Wormsley