When entrepreneurs start making bets with each other, you know it will probably lead to all sorts of shenanigans.
So when Mike Clare, the Founder and Ex-Chairman of Dreams, heard that his friend, Peter Borg-Neal, was appearing on Question Time, he saw an excellent opportunity to have some fun, while potentially doing a bit of good.
Peter, who is Founder & Executive Chairman of one of the UK’s most successful independent pub groups, Oakman Inns, headquartered in Tring, was invited to appear on the current affairs programme because of his strong public views on the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to the Hospitality Industry. He was the first industry figure to demand that the Government produce evidence for their constant accusation that pubs and restaurants lay at the heart of the increase in Covid-19 cases.
During an exchange on HMG’s perceived Pandemic mismanagement, Peter said: ‘…Let me refer you back to the (Government’s) Shenanigans last week…..’ A bemused Fiona Bruce repeated the word, and Peter clarified his position in more detail.
Peter takes up the story: ‘Mike, I and some other friends had recently been on holiday together, and Mike had created a WhatsApp called St. Tropez Shenanigans where we could share photos, travel details and so on. When he heard I’d been invited to take part on Question Time, he offered me a donation of £2,000 to my chosen charity if I could say the word ‘Shenanigans’ in an appropriate context. As people know the word historically meant ‘dishonest manoeuvring’, rather than it’s modern usage as ‘silly or high-spirited behaviour’ – as was appropriate for our holiday WhatsApp group! As Matt Hancock has, to this day, refused to provide such proof, while continuing his debasement of my industry, my use of the word was entirely in context. However, Mike was even more sporting because, as Fiona Bruce had also said the word, he assumed I had roped her in as well, and so he doubled his donation.’
Peter’s chosen charity is Tring Rugby Club, of which he is a former Chairman. It’s one of 16 clubs whose Minis and Juniors teams receive sponsorship from Oakman Inns, money that current Tring Rugby Chairman, John Ball, explains is desperately needed more than ever before.
‘The clubs Oakman support are all an intregral part of their local communities. At Tring Rugby Club, we provide a safe, fun, friendly activity for children and adults beyond the school gates into the local community and playing rugby teaches these great kids what we call TREDS – Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship. Lockdown and the various health and safety measures has meant cutting down on the number of events and participants which in turn has not only meant these kids are losing exposure to TREDS but has also put pressure on our cashflow. So this generous donation will pay for the marquee we’ve hired to provide much needed safe shelter for our players, including the Minis and Juniors and their parents. Thanks to Mike, one Club at least is a little bit safer.’
Mike Clare is no stranger to charitable endeavours. With some of the fortune he made when selling his company, Dreams, in 2008, Mike established The Clare Foundation. Their efforts are focused on the County of Buckinghamshire, where Mike is a Deputy Lieutenant. His foundation brings together the key stakeholders, partners, businesses and charitable organisations to help them cooperate to create positive change across society in Buckinghamshire. As Mike says: ‘We bring the forces of kindness together to tackle the root causes of unhappiness in Buckinghamshire. Peter does very much the same thing by supporting the communities his pubs serve, and his support for getting kids to play team sports is excellent and never more needed. I am still chuckling at Peter’s Shenanigans, which I hope will lift the political mood a little, while perhaps driving greater transparency.’