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City of Ale co-founder steps down after nine years

PUBLISHED: 11:56 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 12 December 2019

Phil Cutter and Dawn Leeder, co-founders of City of Ale, with beer writer Roger Protz. Ms Leeder is stepping down from the festival. Photo: Simon Finlay

Phil Cutter and Dawn Leeder, co-founders of City of Ale, with beer writer Roger Protz. Ms Leeder is stepping down from the festival. Photo: Simon Finlay

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The co-founder of Norwich’s City of Ale Festival is stepping down after nine years at the helm.

David Holliday, Frances Brace and Phil Cutter, the new organisers of the City of Ale 2020 festival in Norwich. Photo: Laura WatsonDavid Holliday, Frances Brace and Phil Cutter, the new organisers of the City of Ale 2020 festival in Norwich. Photo: Laura Watson

Together with Phil Cutter from The Murderers pub, Dawn Leeder co-founded and co-chaired the event, which started in 2011 and attracts thousands of people to the city's pubs every year.

For the last nine years, Ms Leeder has given five months of her time to organising the festival, but said, after 2019 became the most successful event to date, it was the right time to step back.

"I really feel as if I've taken City of Ale as far as I can," she said. "This year was the most successful festival to date - with more visitors than ever flocking to Norwich pubs to sample ales from the region's superb breweries.

"Over the past nine years City of Ale has achieved all the ambitions that Phil and I had for it, from its inception. Norwich is now recognised as the first and foremost beer city in the UK, attracting increasing numbers of beer lovers from outside the region. Its model - a co-operative community of publicans and brewers - has been adopted and adapted by other cities. Surely there can be no greater accolade? And this year it has been award-winning to boot."

Dawn Leeder and Phil Cutter, co-founders of the City of Ale festival in Norwich. Photo: Frances BraceDawn Leeder and Phil Cutter, co-founders of the City of Ale festival in Norwich. Photo: Frances Brace

David Holliday, from Norfolk Brewhouse, has become a new City of Ale director, co-chairman and brewers' co-ordinator.

Ms Leeder, who will now focus on her local history research, said the team at Norfolk Brewhouse had always embraced City of Ale, and said "nothing is too much trouble" for Mr Holliday, describing him as a "vastly experienced brewer, a campaigner and a real mover and shaker".

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Mr Holliday said: "Pubs and beer can bring communities together and be a power for good. By working together, brewers and licensees can make a real difference. Dawn and Phil have shown how this is possible.

"I am delighted to join the team and have the opportunity to spread the word about how important pubs are - and what a great destination Norwich is. It will be good to look at what more we can do to extend the benefits of City of Ale beyond the festival itself."

Norfolk Brewhouse will support City of Ale 2020 with a collaboration brew with a Belgian brewer.

Mr Cutter said Ms Leeder's involvement with the festival was a "labour of love", and an "extraordinary gift" to the city.


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