Bruce's Beers Begat Boats for Disabled People
Having failed in 1966 to join all his friends at university, David badly needed a job! Accepted by both an oil company and a brewery, David chose the latter as he thought pubs and breweries would be more fun than petrol stations and oil refineries!
54-years on, David has no regrets and he certainly has no plans for retiring yet as he’s still enjoying his entrepreneurial life too much!
Having learnt to brew at Simonds Brewery in Reading, David became Head Brewer at Theakston’s Brewery in Yorkshire, where he resolved to start his own Brewery one day. In 1979, after 9 months on the dole and armed with a pile of debt, David started Bruce’s Brewery and the Firkin Pubs.
After selling, just before his 40th birthday, his by then 12 Firkin Pubs in 1988 for cash, David created The Bruce Charitable Trust with a view to providing holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people on specially-designed, purpose-built boats on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Four highly-specialist boats were soon developed and now, 30 years later, over 22,500 people with special needs, together with their carers, have enjoyed canal-cruising holidays.
For many years now, Rotary Clubs including Hungerford, Newbury, Thatcham, Abingdon Vesper and Swindon Phoenix have been hiring his Trust’s boats and in 2013 David was delighted to be awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship, of which he is immensely proud.
Having applied his entrepreneurial spirit to philanthropy, David was soon missing business so he proceeded to co-found breweries from Paris to Seattle via New York and Denver before continuing to develop his charitable interests, including being Chairman of the Governors of Queen Anne’s School, Caversham.
As David is not getting any younger(!), he recently determined to secure the future of his Trust’s four boats. As the then President of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust which was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2013, David worked closely with its Chairman to create the Bruce Branch of The Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. In 2018, The Bruce Trust gifted for zero consideration its £600,000-worth of boats at cost to the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust which agreed to use its best endeavours to continue to provide, in perpetuity, holidays for disabled people.
Having secured the future of his Trust’s four boats, David has resumed his entrepreneurial and charitable ventures in Berkshire: developing a chain of farm shops, an award-winning vineyard and The West Berkshire Brewery and also President of the Royal County of Berkshire Show in 2020 and the inaugural Chairman of Newbury West Berkshire Economic Development Company.