Staff from Blackpool’s bar scene have celebrated the end of the festive season and their working year with a new party night.
The first Graftas’ awards took place to honour the ‘hard working’ staff from late night venues in the town.
More than 200 bar workers, managers and owners attended the party at Viva in Church Street, to see friends and colleagues presented with awards for their efforts at work – and at play.
Among those taking the honours were the team from the Duke Of York in Dickson Street, where senior staff Tony Phillips and Natalie Parks, with Jordan Fairlie and Nikki Kello, stepped in after their boss was taken ill.
Landlord and landlady Ewan and Mikki Williams put their team forward for the title of going ‘above and beyond’, when Ewan spent three weeks in hospital after a blood clot caused his heart to stop, and pneumonia – all on top of an ongoing battle with leukemia.
“He was taken to hospital in the middle of the night, and I was worried I was going to have to shut the pub,” Mikki said. “But Tony, Natalie, Jordan and Nikki texted to say ‘do what you need to do, we’ll look after the pub’.
“We were so grateful, when you’re going through that kind of stress you just don’t know what to do, and they solved it.
“We had thanked them and sent a gift when Ewan was in hospital, then when the awards came up with was a chance to say thank you publicly. When something like this happens you realise how good people really are.”
As well as awards for best bars and best bar workers, some more tongue-in-cheek titles were also given out.
Organiser DJ Paul O’Brien said: “When I was working at Pontins and working abroad we used to have a lot of workers’ parties and end of season awards to show recognition to those who had worked hard all year, but nothing like it existed in Blackpool.
“It was great to see so many people from different bars all socialising together like a huge family.
“The atmosphere was incredible, Blackpool most certainly does rock. This night was put together in just four weeks, so imagine what next year’s will be like.”
DJ Lionel Vinyl hosted, with entertainment from the Freefly Crew and DJ Key hosting the after party.
Martin Heywood, managing director at Viva, said: “It was fantastic to have people from the licensed trade celebrating together in what was a really friendly and team-spirited night.
“We have so many people working in the late-night industry here in Blackpool, and they work exceptionally hard, so it was brilliant to recognize their hard work and success.
“I’d also personally like to thank all the venue managers and owners who supported the night by nominating their team members and attending on the night.
“Sometimes it’s easy to just look at your own venue or business and not bother about anyone else, but this collaborative effort really worked in giving our teams a chance to let their hair down and enjoy a great night out and created an amazing event everyone should be proud of.”