Volunteer FAQ

Below you will find answer to many potential questions, though comprehensive, it is not exhaustive … if there is an unanswered question, please do not be afraid to ask it!

Q – When is the 2019 beer festival
A – Set up begins on Monday 18th March. The first open session is Friday 22nd March, followed by Saturday 23rd March. Knock down is Sunday 24th March.
Q – How many Cheshire Beer Festivals have been held
A – This is the fourth event, all of which have been held at Chester Racecourse.
Q – Which CAMRA branch has organised the festival
A – The festival is a joint venture between all the Cheshire-based branches, including Chester & South Clwyd, North Cheshire, South Cheshire, Wirra, Halton and Macclesfield & East Cheshire.
Q – Where is the festival being held
A – The venue is the County Concourse at Chester Racecourse. Main entry is via New Crane Street, CH1 2LY
Q – Is there parking for available for staff
A – Yes, free parking is available for staff. The car park entrance is manned, you just need to ask for the Beer Festival.
Q – How do I get between the venue and Chester Railway Station
A – From Chester Railway Station, the walk is about 20 minutes (well signed). Taxis are available outside the Station or ring 01244 346464 (King Cabs). There is no direct bus route from the Station to the Racecourse. There is no organised transport from the Racecourse to the Station or branch areas after each session. However, taxi information will be available in the staffing area and we will try to organise taxi share for staff where possible.
Q – Where do I go to on arrival
A – On arrival, please report to the staffing desk near the front entrance, where you will receive your staff identification and rota.
Q – What jobs am I likely to be asked to do
A – The smooth running of the festival requires staff to undertake a range of jobs other than beer serving. The Rota breaks the session up into different roles so that no one ends up on a specific task for too long. Not everyone will be able to just serve beer throughout a single session. However, where staff have given preferences, we will try our utmost to honour them. No staff will be asked to do anything which is outside their comfort zone – if you need to change your rota tasks for any reason, just ask!
Q – What if I expect to arrive late at the festival
A – Expected staff members will be on the list; staff badges and rotas will be available in the staffing area. If not, ask Eileen Willshaw for advice.
Q – Who do I speak to if I wish to change a task I have been designated on the rota or leave early
A – Eileen Willshaw is our Staffing Manager, and she alone is authorised to make changes to the rota.
Q – What if the Staffing Manager is not available
A – The Assistant Staffing Manager is Kevin Johnson.
Q – How does session switch-over work, to ensure a break-free service to our customers
A – At switch-over time, bar staff leave first to go onto next task. Those not assigned to specific rota tasks will take over at bar until new staff arrive.
Q – Where does staff training take place
A – Staff training will be given in the staff room on the first floor.
Q – Will I have to handle cash
A – Beer and cider sales are by voucher only. Once inside the festival, cash can only be used on the CAMRA stall and for the pub games, tombola and raffle. Cash boxes with floats will be provided at the beginning of each session. Cash will be uplifted regularly by members of the Finance Team and collected at the end of each session. Cash boxes must not be left unattended, even if locked. Independent franchise holders, selling chocolate, crisps etc will deal in cash
Q – Who is authorised to collect cash from trading activities
A – The Finance Team is made up of Sue Williams and Ian Williams. They are the only people authorised to collect cash from any trading activity.
Q – When can I take a break
A – Breaks can be taken when working on the beer-serving slot, as this is the most heavily staffed area.
Q – Is there a place I can go to for breaks
A – The designated staff area on the first floor is set aside for breaks and rest times. All staffing information is kept in this place.
Q – Can I bring my own food to eat
A – If you are working long shifts and don’t want to eat the Racecourse fare, do bring your own sandwiches etc. Water and soft drinks will be available.
Q – Where will customers arrive at the festival
A – Visitors will arrive by the main entrance to the Racecourse (gates leading off New Crane Street). The entrance to the main Beer Hall in the County Concourse will be clearly marked. The main entrance to the Beer Hall will be staffed by Global Security at all times.
Q – I’ve been asked to cover a session working on the door. What does this entail
A – CAMRA staffing will involve ‘meet and greet’, collecting tickets/checking on-line PayPal bookings, giving out glasses and programmes and selling beer vouchers. There will be a member of staff on the door at the beginning of each session, to supervise and support you.
Q – A customer has a ticket. How do I handle this on the door
A – Take whole ticket from customer, tear off small stub and retain. Return larger portion of ticket to customer (this will be evidence of payment if anyone needs to leave and re-enter the Festival during a session).
Q – A customer has an online ticket receipt. How do I handle this on the door
A – There will be a master list, to verify that people have a genuine online sale. Do not simply let people in because they have what appears to be a PayPal receipt as these can be forged. Look up the online sale details on the master list. If everyone on that ticket has arrived, cross that sale off the master list. If say only 2 of the 4 people for that sale are present, then mark on the master list that 2 are still to arrive. These later arrivals will need to give the details of the person on the master list to gain admission. Once everyone has arrived cross that sale off the master list.
Q – A customer says he has paid online but has forgotten to bring his online ticket receipt. How do I handle this on the door
A – Look up the person’s details on the master list of all online sales for that day. They must confirm name and address. If still concerned perhaps check email address too. If everyone for that ticket has arrived, cross that sale off the master list. If say only 2 of the 4 people for that sale are present, mark on the master list that 2 are still to arrive. These later arrivals will need to give the details of the person on the master list to gain admission. Once everyone has arrived, cross that sale off the master list.
Q – Who do I contact to check on a PayPal ticket receipt on the door
A – Ian Williams will be advising on this.
Q – A customer says there has been a ticket left for her. How do I handle this on the door?
A – Name and details will be on an envelope in the cash box at the door. Put payment for the tickets into the cash box and retain tickets.
Q – A customer has no ticket and wishes to pay. How do I handle this on the door
A – We will be providing facilities for people to pay on the door. Put payment and half of ticket in the cash box and hand other half to customer as proof for re-admission during that session.
Q – A person says they are a member of the band. How do I handle this on the door
A – Expected band members will be on the list on the door. If they are not on list, call Brian Vardy or Eileen Willshaw for advice. Direct them to the first-floor staffing area where they will be asked to sign in and issued with a BAND badge, a glass and a programme. Offer them a label to mark their glass. If they are playing at subsequent sessions, ask that they bring back their glasses. All our bands perform free of charge so they are eligible for free beer/cider as long as they can show their badge.
Q – What about glasses and programmes
A – Customers should be issued with a free programme and glass on entry. You should tell them where to purchase their beer vouchers.
Q – How does a customer purchase beer and other refreshments
A – Sales of beer and cider will by voucher ONLY. Refreshments, tea, coffee and soft drinks can be purchased with cash from the Racecourse company.
Q – Who is managing the sale of beer vouchers
A – This is being managed by Sue Williams.
Q – A customer wants a refund on unused beer vouchers. Is this possible
A – Refunds will be available up to 15 minutes before the end of each day. However, if there is a problem, just ask one of the Finance Team who will be on hand to support! Customers will be encouraged to post any part used beer vouchers into the charity box. The value of the vouchers then goes to our chosen charity. If customers really do want a refund, retain the part used card – this is required for reconciliation – do not mark the card in any way. Refund the cash remaining on the card to the customer.
Q – Are there any commemorative glasses available this year
A – No there are not. As we had no sponsor for the glasses this year, and to keep costs as low as possible for our customers, we have taken the decision to use surplus stock from other CAMRA festivals.
Q – Are customers free to retain their glasses after the festival
A – Yes, in fact they should be encouraged to do so to reduce CAMRA’s “glass mountain”.
Q – Are there any concessions for CAMRA members
A – Yes, Card-carrying CAMRA members are entitled to a free half-pint of beer or cider. Tokens for this can be collected from the CAMRA stall. If working on the CAMRA stall, ensure the CAMRA membership card is current and in date, print name in book along with CAMRA card number (prevents multiple approaches) and try to get e-mail addresses so to add to our contact lists. Then issue a voucher for a free half-pint.
Q – Is the festival all on one level
A – All beers, ciders and live entertainment will be on the Ground Floor of the County Concourse. The large upstairs room is a quiet area with masses of seating and interesting stalls – do encourage people to go up and explore!
Q – What if customers wish to leave the festival mid-session and return later to the same session
A – People wishing to leave the Festival and return during the same session, need to retain their portion of the ticket as evidence of payment. Exit and entrance will be through the main entrance.
Q – What if a customer wishes to smoke
A – There will be an outdoor smoking area by the rear door (by the pub games). It will be cordoned off and no-one will be allowed to go beyond the enclosed area. The door will be staffed at all times. All glasses must be left inside the hall due to safety regulations. A glass park table will be provided.
Q – Who is the senior person responsible for the festival and the bar/beers
A – Brian Vardy is the Festival Organiser and Bar & Beer Manager. He is responsible for all issues relating to beer quality and ensuring we have an excellent selection of beers on sale throughout the festival.
Q – What if the senior person is not available
A – Paul Tench is the Deputy Bar Manager.
Q – Do we aim to have a wide range of beer available each day
A – Yes – our objective is to have the widest possible choice of beers available until the end of Saturday evening. We DO NOT aim to sell out of popular beers quickly. Please support Brian and his team (and Linda on the cider), when a beer is ‘bagged’ in mid-day – there is a good reason. We need it for the next day! A bold line on the beer management sheet marks the day stop point. Once it reaches this point contact Brian Vardy or Paul Tench. They will have the final decision on when to stop serving a beer.
Q – Who has the authority to stop serving a popular beer
A – Only Brian Vardy or Paul Tench have this authority.
Q – How do they know whether a beer is popular
A – For ALL beer poured (staff / band / customers) on the front of each cask is a beer management form. Please cross off a triangle (representing a half) every time you serve. Not an exact science but a reasonable guide to how much beer is left. (Not required for cider). If you are aware of serving several samples from a particular cask then mark off another ½ pint from the beer management sheet. A bold line on the beer management sheet marks the day stop point.
Q – Can I move casks on the stillage
A – NO! only Brian Vardy and Paul Tench are allowed to move casks once they are on the stillage. Do not attempt to tilt any barrels. The stillage is not designed for this purpose and this act will not be covered under our insurance, leaving us liable for any damage a falling cask may make.
Q – Who is entitled to free beer
A – Staff members (identified by a staff badge and lanyard), together with band members (identified by a band badge or sticker) are entitled to free beer or cider. CAMRA members as customers are entitled to a free half-pint of beer or cider on production of a voucher (obtained from the CAMRA staff). This should be taken and destroyed.
Q – Can customers have free samples
A – Yes, small samples can be given on request free of charge.
Q – How do I handle payment by a customer for beer
A – Payment is by voucher only. Take the voucher and cross off the price of the beer from the voucher and return it to the customer for future transactions.
Q – Is there anything to be aware of regarding hygiene
A – Take care when handling a customers’ glass. Do not allow your fingers, the tap, or anything else other than beer touch the inside of the glass. Alcohol handwash and paper towels are available for you to keep your hands clean.
Q – Who do I contact if there is a complaint about beer quality
A – Either Brian Vardy or Paul Tench will handle any complaints regarding beer quality.
Q – Who do I contact if there is an issue with the cooling system such as the system not working or leaking
A – John Bowyer is responsible for all aspects of the beer cooling system.
Q – Who do I contact if there is a question regarding cider
A – Linda Harris is our cider expert, and she will also have some dedicated staff.
Q – Who is responsible for the sale of CAMRA membership and merchandise
A – David Goodwin is the manager of the CAMRA stall. If additional staff are needed, full training will be given.
Q – How are CAMRA merchandise sales handled
A – There will be a sheet detailing all items for sale. If a sale is made mark the quantity sold against the item – we can then use this to reconcile the cash taken throughout the evening.
Q – How do we handle new member sign-ups
A – New members Must have direct debit details to hand or pay cash. Once they have joined CAMRA, they qualify for a free half. Print name in book (flagged as new member).
Q – Who do I contact with any Health & Safety-related concerns
A – John Harris is our Health and Safety Coordinator, supported by Lee Reynolds, and he should be contacted with any safety planning, risk assessment or other health and safety issues arising during the festival. John will be based in the Staffing Area on the first floor. Health & Safety files will be kept in this area.
Q – Who do I go to for first aid
A – Lee Reynolds is our First Aid Officer. Both Lee Reynolds and John Harris are qualified first aiders, and there will also be qualified support from Race Company staff on site. All Incidents must be reported to the Health and Safety Co-ordinator or a First Aider – do not attempt to provide first aid yourself.
Q – What are the arrangements for fire emergencies
A – The Racecourse has well established fire/emergency evacuation procedures. Training will be given to all staff at the beginning of each session and there will be evacuation maps around the building.
Q – How do I handle a request for information on allergens
A – It is a legal requirement that full information about the allergens in each beer/cider have been identified and is available to the consumer. It is illegal to sell without this information. If a customer needs information, they should contact the Health and Safety Co-ordinator, where a file containing full information will be available. It is important that all such requests are handled in this way – under no circumstances guess or assume the correct answer to a query.
Q – Who do I refer any press or publicity related queries to
A – Craig Papworth is responsible for this area.
Q – Who is the main point of contact with the Racecourse staff
A – Eileen Willshaw.
Q – What if there are any problems or issues that are not covered in these FAQs
A – Craig Papworth is the festival trouble-shooter, who will resolve any other issues that people may have.