Raise a glass with Spandau Ballet legend

HE was the frontman of one of the most successful British bands of the 1980s, but former Spandau Ballet star Tony Hadley is now vying to be Top of the Hops.

Laurence Cawley

HE was the frontman of one of the most successful British bands of the 1980s, but former Spandau Ballet star Tony Hadley is now vying to be Top of the Hops.

Mr Hadley has always had a passion for real ale and is now a part-owner of the Red Rat Craft Brewery, based at Troston near Bury St Edmunds.

Yesterday he was in Bury to show his support for the 17th East Anglian Beer Festival, which is showcasing 84 real ales and ciders from the region's brewers.

As well as his work with the brewery, the singer has also been involved in the Buy the Boys a Beer campaign, which earlier this year saw free beers made for the returning members of RAF Honington-based 15 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Mr Hadley said: “The two people I work with at Red Rat are former members of the Royal Anglian Regiment and I have family connections with the military.

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“We've been able to do special beers for individual regiments with individual messages on the back. The great thing is it is supporting the troops who, as I have found out by speaking to them, they don't feel the public is behind them. I've told them the public is 100% behind them, they just sometimes are not 100% behind the Government.”

There is even a beer named after the star - Hadley's - and the star added: “I love real ale. As far as I know I'm the only person in the music industry with an ale named after them. Cliff Richard has his own vineyard, but I have a brewery.”

Asked for his top tipple tips for festival visitors, Mr Hadley strongly recommended Old Stoatwobbler which is brewed by the Spectrum Brewery.

Festival organiser Guy Ransom said: “I honestly believe we do the best beers in the country here in East Anglia and I think we have the best collection of beers going. It is a celebration of the quality of East Anglian ale.”

Mr Ransom added the festival team had acquired two casks of Greene King's Abbot Reserve as well as Ale Fresco, which was not due to be released until two months' time.

Earlier in the day, Mr Hadley was at RAF Honington to hand over the £150 raised for the Help for Heroes campaign.

Base commander, Group Captain Russ La Forte said: “RAF Honington and the wider RAF Regiment are most grateful to the Red Rat Craft Brewery, Kevin McHenry and Tony Hadley, as well as all those members of the public who supported this wonderful enterprise.

“It is supporting a magnificent charity, Help for Heroes, a fact made all the more poignant given the deaths of two more RAF Regiment gunners, Senior Aircraftmen Graham Livingstone and Gary Thompson, in Afghanistan last week.”

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