A key member of Sheffield CAMRA and of the Sheffield beer festival for around 30 years. Having worked on the set up and take down of many festivals, Martin finally cajoled his brother into joining the cause and promoting real ale in Sheffield. They both then bent my ear until I joined up. This then began my journey and transition from tasteless frothy rubbish into real ale.
Martin was always the first to arrive and last to leave during festival set ups. Working tirelessly to give the attendees the perfect experience and therefore the best possible impression of what we are all about.
He was an absolute brute in the cellar set up and perfect gentleman at the bar, while sipping a dark ale or Old Rosie he presented an imposing figure in long sweeping coats, various hats, a glint in the eye and infectious smile. Picture a cross between Oscar Wild and Jeff Capes via a gothic Doctor Who. A treasure of a man with a rapier like wit, hollow legs and always ready with a story to cheer up the group.
Bring up Martins name to any member of Sheffield CAMRA, his local the Kelham Island Tavern or anyone he knew, I guarantee you will see an instant smile flash across their face, a raise of an eyebrow then a deep breath as they retell a tale of monsters, wizards, warrior maidens and heroes. Or more realistically great nights, brewery trips and days out around Yorkshire hunting out ale hot spots.
The real ale scene, nay the world is a worse place for having lost Martin. Whenever I come across a new cider or rabbit punned beer I will always wonder what you would have made of it and drink to you. The places you loved will stand for years and I will always look for you in the spots where we used to drink.
I loved the time we spent and the fun we had, sadly there will be no more. You leave a massive hole mate. Rest in peace and see you in the KIT, I’ll get the first round.
I’d like to add to Noel’s words on behalf of myself and the beer festival team.
I first met Martin nearly 20 years ago when I started volunteering for the Sheffield beer festival. He was one of the “gang of three”, big lads, with his brother Mark and mate Noel. In those days we had no lifting equipment and Martin and Noel lifted the full barrels up to head height to fit on the top of the stillage. They’d work away cheerfully all day at was physically beyond the rest of us, with an incredible stream of banter between them. I was in awe of their teamwork. Martin cut an unlikely figure with goth looks and black nail varnish, and he also doubled as our bouncer when the festival was in session, a job he did with ease. Martin was one of the people who made me really welcome when I started doing festivals and we used to spend hours joshing about with his craic and ready humour.
Sundays saw him dressed in his best , looking resplendent in suit and overcoat with his family at the Kelham, looking like a character out of Dickens, again with a lively stream of banter. Once at a Halloween party I was confronted by a bright green man – yes it was Martin in one of his outrageous costumes. His last festival was 2019, and he was recovering from the initial onset of his brain tumour. Physically he could no longer help a lot, but he was determined to turn up for the festival, his ready wit and humour still to the fore. For him the festival was important, a social occasion to get together with the rest of us festival makers once a year and have a good time. We will miss him.
When I see someone out of the corner of my eye buying a pint of Black Mass, and hear a group of mates having a good laugh and joke at a packed festival, I’ll know he’s still with us in spirit.
Rest in peace big man, I feel proud to have known you.
Chris Pearce, Cellar Manager