AN UNDERTAKER-sponsored ale nicknamed “Last Orders” was among the top choices at Wanborough’s first ale and cider festival.

The inaugural beer bash was dreamed up by four drinking friends – including the village’s vicar, Rev Bill O’Connell.

After visiting countless beer festivals themselves and helping with the annual Swindon CAMRA festival, the quartet were keen to bring an event to their home turf.

All the profits raised from the festival will go towards Wanborough parish church’s £18,000 bid for a new boiler.

Rev O’Connell, who arrived in Wanborough four years ago from New Milton, near Bournemouth, said: “I wouldn’t have said it came off Noah’s Ark, but it’s not a million miles away.

“We’ve got one aged boiler and we’re looking to transform the heating – not only in terms of keeping the place warm, but also cutting the expensive running costs.”

The four friends – who call themselves the “Old Boilers” – hope to raise up to £5,000 towards the church boiler appeal.

With help from Pewsey-based Three Castles Brewery, they brought 20 cask ales and 10 ciders to the New Calley Arms for the first Wanborough Beer and Cider Festival.

Each beer had been sponsored by a different business – with undertakers Pearce Funeral Services re-christening Kent’s Southern Cross pale ale with the more macabre “Last Orders”.

The organisers said that, by the end of the first night, they had already sold out of a strawberry cider. A pair of twins from Swindon celebrated their 30th birthday at the festival, with friends coming from across the country to make a dent in the festival’s kegs.

Co-organiser Graeme Williamson said: “Most of the beers have come from far and wide. We’ve got veers from Nottinghamshire, Kent, Herefordshire and Dorset.”

Former publican Barry Hillier – and another member of the Old Boilers – said the secret to a good pint of beer was its freshness: “What makes a poor pint is if it’s out of date. With a beer festival you can’t go wrong.”

Wanborough Beer and Cider Festival continues until 11pm, Satuday, April 14, at the New Calley Arms. Tickets are £10 and include a free half pint commemorative glass.