About Brakspear

At Brakspear, we’re passionate about great pubs. Our family has been running pubs for over 200 years and, while many things have changed in that time, the pub remains at the heart of British life. Today, as ever, it offers great food, great drink, and a place to enjoy the company of others - friends, family or fellow-drinkers.

We're lucky to have beautiful pubs but we think it’s the people inside, running the pub who matter, and that means we do things differently at Brakspear. We are still family owned and run, which means we make all our decisions for the long term benefit of our company, our pub tenants and our pub customers.

We think you’ll notice that difference, whichever side of the bar you’re standing, whether you’re popping in for a quick pint, or partnering with us to run one of our 132 wonderful rural, community or town centre pubs. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Photo left: The Brakspear team taken December 2015.

1779
1812
1896
1913
1963
1875
1971
1994
2007
2013
1154
The start of Brakspear

1779 - The start of Brakspear

In 1769, nineteen year old Robert Brakspear, became the pub landlord of the Cross Keys, Witney and it's from here Brakspear Bitter was born and started being brewed. Many people were enjoying Brakspear Bitter, so he needed to move to a bigger brewery. Robert joined us uncle Richard Hayward in 1779 and moved to the Bell Street brewery, after Richard had become a partner in 1768.

Moving the brewery

1812 - Moving the brewery

In 1812 Robert passed away and the brewery moved round the corner from Bell Street to New Street in Henley and had 34 pub leases and Robert's second son, William Henry, joined the business. William became a partner in 1825, and was sole proprietor by 1848 and began trading as W.H. Brakspear. William worked tirelessly to expand the company acquiring more beerhouses and malthouses, before passing away in 1882. William Henry had success within the town; he was mayor of Henley four times, a justice of the peace and an alderman, a very well respected man within the community.

Two hundred years later

1896 - Two hundred years later

William Henry's sons Archibald and George had become partners before their father's death. This marked the move from the family as the managers to them just being the owners but they did introduce a new coopers shop in 1886 and new brewhouse in 1892. In 1896 Brakspear's bought out their main local rival, the Grey's Brewery. As keen sports fans, they also joint founded Henley Cricket Club in 1869 which still remains today. Archibald passed away in 1909. The Henley Standard, a local newspaper that he helped found and are still around today, said of him that he retained the respect, admiration and esteem of the whole community among whom he lived.

Not just pubs

1913 - Not just pubs

After his father's death Archibald Roswell became chairman until his death in 1933. Ronald, son of George, and his brother F.G. Brakspear were also on the board. It's fair to say these members of the family weren't as business-minded as their fathers and things began to drift. More time was spent at Henley United Rowing Club and at Henley Golf Course than worrying about business. John Chalcraft joined the company in 1914, becoming head brewer, then managing director in 1928 for a staggering 41 years until 1969 and later the first company chairman who was not a member of the family. He remained as chairman until 1974.

New to the board

1963 - New to the board

John's son Michael was a keen brewer and joined the board in 1963 where he remained until 1996. In this time, many pubs were bought that still make up the Brakspear pub estate today. By 1979 Brakspear had 130 pubs, as well as some free houses but then began a period of rationalisation. 20 years later the pub estate was just over 100. A new distribution yard was opened in 1986, but otherwise there was little change with the brewery until production ceased in 2002.

The start of J.T. Davies and Sons

1875 - The start of J.T. Davies and Sons

In 1875 John Thomas Davies moved to London, from Llanarthly, Wales, and borrowed money to build The Mansfield pub, which is now known as the Gospel Oak. In 1913 John died, after building another 11 pubs. These 12 pubs passed to his son Alfred, who formed the limited company J.T. Davies & Sons ltd. Alfred increased the number of pubs to 64 managed pubs in London and the South East, with most of them leased from breweries. Alfred was elected MP for Lincoln in 1918 - 1924 and was knighted too. In 1913 Sir Alfred died at a young age following a stroke and his younger son Tony took over. Tony predicted correctly that breweries would start managing their own pubs, and so he established a chain of off-licenses and wine merchants called Davisons.

Moving into other areas

1971 - Moving into other areas

In 1971 the original J.T. Davies offices in Russell Square, London was relocated to Aberdeen road, Croydon, along with a new bottling warehouse. In the 1980s a new distribution centre was built. By the early 1990s there were 85 stores and a good handful of free-of-tie pubs. It had been a time of contraction for the JT Davies pubs as they had lost all the tenanted houses from Bass and Courage as a result of the 1989 Beer Orders. They were left with those pubs that had been bought individually or built. Tony Davies died, having passed the business to his son Michael seven years earlier, who joined the business in 1973. The company acquired 18 freehold pubs from Bass, the start of the tenanted pub business.

J.T. Davies and Brakspear

1994 - J.T. Davies and Brakspear

In 1994, J.T. Davies acquired Mayor Sworder wine merchants then two years later the off-licenses were sold to Unwins. These shops had run alongside the J.T. Davies pubs for just under 50 years. The company now owned 50 tenanted pubs. In 2000, J.T. Davies bought its first stake in W.H. Brakspear, adding to it in 2002 to secure a 30% share. In 2002, Brakspear moved away from direct brewing and Marstons took the reins at their Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, right around the corner from where Brakspear bitter began at the Cross Keys.

Two companies merging

2007 - Two companies merging

In 2007, J.T. Davies acquired W.H. Brakspear in its entirety and turned it back into a private company, with 150 tenanted and leased pubs. Michael's son Tom joined the business as Commercial Director and the fifth generation of the Davies family to enter the business. J.T. Davies sold Mayor Sworder to Davy & Co of London. A year later Tom became Chief Executive of Brakspear with Michael becoming Chairman for W.H. Brakspear. The pub company side of Brakspear's head office moved to Bell Street, still in Henley on Thames, and the same street where the Brakspear brewery originally was. J.T. Davies then began to re-brand their 50 pubs as Brakspear, presenting one united company again.

Brewing in Henley again

2013 - Brewing in Henley again

In 2013, Brakspear opened its first managed pub, the Bull on Bell Street in Henley on Thames, directly opposite the head office. At the same time, the Bell St Brewery opened too; Brakspear were brewing back in Henley again! Though on a much smaller scale than before, as it is just a microbrewery, it's certainly proving to be popular. Read more in the beers section. To date, Brakspear have seven managed houses with more planned, but the tenanted and leased pubs will always remain at the hub of the business.

The Brakspear bee

1154 - The Brakspear bee

Nicholas Breakspear, a distant relative of the Brakspear family, was the only Englishman to ever be elected as pope and was also known as Pope Adrian IV. Elected pope on the 3rd December 1154, his papal seal contained the image of a bee, and so that's where our bee logo comes from.

Meet the Family

Mickey Davies

Mickey Davies

Chairman

Tom Davies

Tom Davies

Chief Executive

David Nathan

David Nathan

Chief Financial Officer

Gavin Mansfield

Gavin Mansfield

Business Development Manager

Gerard Winder

Gerard Winder

Business Development Manager

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown

Business Development Manager

Emma Sweet

Emma Sweet

Marketing Manager

Amanda Windows

Amanda Windows

Recruitment Manager

Stephanie Dennett

Stephanie Dennett

Head of Interior Design

Laura Morgan

Laura Morgan

Interior Designer

Tony Lewis

Tony Lewis

Property Manager

Arthur Knights

Arthur Knights

Executive Chef

Dan Turner

Dan Turner

Retail Marketing Manager

Holly Harden-Sweetnam

Holly Harden-Sweetnam

Marketing Executive

Kelly Dorrell

Kelly Dorrell

Credit & Applications Manager

Yazminn Robinson

Yazminn Robinson

Credit Controller

Trang Tran

Trang Tran

Accounts Payable

Nicoline Brandligt

Nicoline Brandligt

Accounts Payable

Rebecca Martins De Oliveira

Rebecca Martins De Oliveira

Financial Accountant

Matt Godwin

Matt Godwin

System Analyst

Tara Buffini

Tara Buffini

Operations Manager

Sophie Johnson

Sophie Johnson

Operations Manager

Vicky Manning

Vicky Manning

Financial Accountant

Mickey Davies - Chairman

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started in October 2004 as a non executive Director, having been with J.T.Davies & Sons for my working life; running 20 Managed Pubs and 80 Wine Shops.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

New York, I have never been and I would love to experience it.

Who is your favourite sports team?

England Rugby Team ( They need the support......)

What is your favourite tipple?

Red Wine from Bordeaux - St Emilion preferably.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

I would be able to speak every language in this world and beyond - talking with everybody in their own dialect. I would also have the power to make people get on - wars would never happen.

Mickey Davies
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Tom Davies - Chief Executive

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started at Brakspear in September 2007 before which I was at Fullers working as a Tenanted BDM.

What achievement are you most proud of?

It would have to be winning Best Tenanted Pub Company 2014 which was a goal I set when I took over as CEO in 2010. We have only entered once and won it, I would like to win it again.

Who is your hero? Why?

I think hero is pushing it (!) but my Father has been a great inspiration to me and he continues to be a good friend and mentor in his capacity as Chairman.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I suppose I am very lucky in that I have always wanted to work for the family business in some capacity. I am very proud to be the 5th generation of my family to run the business and hope to be able to pass it on in good condition to the 6th.

What is your favourite tipple?

Brakspear Bitter of course!

Tom Davies
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David Nathan - Chief Financial Officer

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started at Brakspear in April 2010. I worked previously for an audit & accountancy firm, a retail plc, international glass business and, supply chain & wholesaling business.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Patagonia … a little bit different!

Who's your favourite sports team?

Leeds United FC.

What is your favourite tipple?

It's got to be Brakspear Bitter.

What achievement are you most proud of?

This year … Completing the Three Peaks Challenge with my finance family … when you ‘meet them’ you’ll see why!!

David Nathan
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Gavin Mansfield - Business Development Manager

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started with Brakspear in May 2017, and before that I was with McMullens for 6 years.

Where’s the best place you’ve ever been to and why?

Easily Cape Town. I’m from there and it’s simply the best city in the world.

What would be your first purchase if you won the lottery?

A holiday with the kids which didn’t involve me doing too much work!

What’s your favourite tipple?

Red wine….although I’m partial to some good ale on occasion.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I have many!

Gavin Mansfield
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Gerard Winder - Business Development Manager

How long have you been at Brakspear?

I worked here for 6 years before a two year gap where I worked at Hook Norton, and then I came back again! I rejoined the team in December 2019.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

San Francisco is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I love the US but have never visited the West Coast and it looks awesome.

Who is your hero?

David Bowie. Perhaps the greatest ever singer/songwriter who never stood still and constantly reinvented himself.

What is your favourite tipple?

Don Papa Rum or a pint of Brakes.

If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?

I’d love to spend a day on tour with Bernard Sumner from New Order including a back stage view of them playing live!

Gerard Winder
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Stuart Brown - Business Development Manager

What month and year did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakpear in March 2020 having spent 12 years with Punch Pubs & Co and previously Mitchells & Butlers working with All Bar One, PCDG & others.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I spent a summer in California in my youth and travelled to Mexico for a day, it’s a country I have always found intriguing and look forward to visiting and exploring properly to enjoy its vibrant culture, food and amazing scenery.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

Golf, So I could join in with industry golf days without embarrassment…

Whose your favourite sports team?

Rugby: Harlequins, Football: Crystal Palace – its ok to like both…

What is your favourite tipple?

Must admit I am a fan of a decent G&T, however, can’t beat a nice pint of cask ale.

Stuart Brown
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Emma Sweet - Marketing Manager

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started at Brakspear in July 2012. I moved from Manchester for the role, as I was previously marketing manager for JW Lees.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

I’d love to be able to bake. I came last in the Brakspear Bake Off we had in the office. I’m always leaving things in the oven too long.

Who is your hero?

Mo Farrah. I enjoy running, and he’s good inspiration.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Canada as then you get to ski in the winter and go to the beach in the summer.

What is your favourite dessert?

Well I do have a sweet tooth. Depending on what mood I’m in, I’d say strawberry pavlova in the summer, and sticky toffee pudding in the winter.

Emma Sweet
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Amanda Windows - Recruitment Manager

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

Started in 2010, previously I was in financial services marketing.

If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?

I would love to spend the day with Michael MacIntyre.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A barrister.

Whose your favourite sports team?

I don’t have one I’m afraid

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, Strictly Come Dancing.

Amanda Windows
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Stephanie Dennett - Head of Interior Design

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakspear in January 2012. I was at an interior design company in London before this working on residential projects across West London. I did my interior design training at KLC school of design in Chelsea.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Thailand – I went ten years ago and thought it was heaven, the food, the people, the interiors – everything. I’d love the chance to go again.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Made in Chelsea!

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

A magic wand to make my baby son Elliot sleep through the night and the ability to pick money off trees!

Stephanie Dennett
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Laura Morgan - Interior Designer

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I started in January 2014, before Brakspear I was studying Interior design at Liverpool John Moore’s university.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An archaeologist...random I know!! I just liked the idea of unearthing something really unusual that no one had seen before.

What is your favourite dessert?

Anything with chocolate in it!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

In the summer months I’d love to live in the French Philippines in a overwater bungalow and for the winter I’d love to live in Canada.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

I’d like to be able to fly, so I could easily get to and from the French Philippines and Canada.

Laura Morgan
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Tony Lewis - Property Manager

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I have been at Brakspear since March 2011. I undertook my professional training at a firm of Chartered Surveyors in London called Drivers Jonas (Deloitte Real Estate).

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I would have a house in New Zealand for their summer and a house in Italy for our summer.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Antarctica. I have always dreamt of walking to the South Pole.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

I would love to learn to sail. It is on my bucket list to sail across the Atlantic.

What is your favourite dessert?

Apple crumble and lots of custard.

Tony Lewis
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Arthur Knights - Executive Chef

When did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

October 2017. I came form the Metropolitan Pub Group, part of Greene King.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Tokyo. I've never been and would love to work out there and learn more of the cuisine.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

Packet of Nurofen!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A fighter pilot

Whose your favourite sports team?

Liverpool FC

Arthur Knights
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Dan Turner - Retail Marketing Manager

When did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I started in September 2017 and my previous job was at Ideal Collection – a small group located in Hampshire and West Sussex.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

New Zealand – the mountains look incredible! And would be a great spot for some snowboarding.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

Coding. That’s the way the world is going and it would save money on my budget.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Depends at which age… But being a Ghostbuster was always a dream.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Classical music – is that lame?!

Dan Turner
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Holly Harden-Sweetnam - Marketing Executive

When did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I started Brakspear in March 2020 and before that, I was the Marketing Manager for an engineering company in Reading. But I've spent my last 3 years completing a degree in Magazine Journalism & Production at The University of Gloucestershire.

If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?

It would have to be Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, she's honestly my muse & an absolute icon.

What is your favourite dessert?

This is a hard one to answer, as I have a mega sweet tooth. But my ultimate sweet treat has to be a vanilla and chocolate cannoli (an Italian pastry). However, when it comes to anything sweet, I'm not fussy...

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Anywhere by the beach. As long as there was a view from my window where I can work and paint, close enough to walk down to the beach on my lunch break and dip my toes in the water, and not too far from a bustling town to keep my evenings and weekends busy! If you know where this place is, please tell me!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I love fancy dress. In my bedroom, I have a box filled with various exciting accessories & items, like a 1930's cage bag, a pink cowboy hat, a feather bower, ABBA boots & a whole load of other wonderfully wacky outfits! As soon as fancy dress is involved, I get overly excited & tend to plan my outfit down to every last minor detail.

Holly Harden-Sweetnam
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Kelly Dorrell - Credit & Applications Manager

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

March 2011

What skill would you like to learn and why?

Read minds, because it would amuse me greatly and make me rich.

What the first think you would buy if you won the lottery?

An island in paradise

If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?

I'd like to spend a day with 3 celebrities, Jeremy Clarkson, Tom Hardy and Paul Weller.

What is your favourite tipple?

A good full bodied red wine.

Kelly Dorrell
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Yazminn Robinson - Credit Controller

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakspear in July 2014, before this I was working for a telecoms company also based in Henley.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

A new set of teeth.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Somewhere hot and somewhere I can learn to snowboard.

Have you ever had a nickname?

Yes, I’ve had loads, Minn is probably the most popular.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

I would love to have the power of invisibility.

Yazminn Robinson
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Trang Tran - Accounts Payable

What month and year did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I started in November 2018. Before that, I was with Deawoo Electronic Ltd.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I'd love to drive around all the countries in Europe for a month.

Who is your hero? Why?

Anyone who's given up a comfortable life to go and help those in underdeveloped remote corners of the world because I know that I wouldn't be able to do it myself.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

On a desert island with my favorites discs!

Trang Tran
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Nicoline Brandligt - Accounts Payable

What month and year did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I started in May 2019 and before that I worked at Bottomline and Xerox.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

Plumbing, at least I wouldn't need to rely on plumbers!

Whose your favourite sports team?

I only watch the Euro or World Cup, so it can be the Netherlands, France or England, as long as they play fair and don’t play any comedy when they “fall”. I felt embarrassed when Zidane’s headbutted an Italian player but we don’t know what was said……

What is your favourite tipple?

Gin and Tonic or a blue Lagoon: 1 part Blue Curacao, 1 part Vodka, 4 parts Lemonade ( I used to do a cocktail weekend with friends).

What is your favourite dessert?

Crêpes Suzette in the winter and Eton mess with added raspberries in the summer, but there are too many I like!

Nicoline Brandligt
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Rebecca Martins De Oliveira - Financial Accountant

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I Joined Brakspear in January 2014 after relocating from Cheshire.

Who is your hero?

Jane Bartle-Wilson, former member of the British Olympic Dressage Team.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional showjumper.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I would love to live in Buenos Aires.

What is your favourite dessert?

Jamie Oliver’s banana and blueberry French toast.

Rebecca Martins De Oliveira
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Matt Godwin - System Analyst

When did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakspear in July 2017 as the Deputy Manager for the Bull on Bell St in Henley-on-Thames, I then joined the head office team in October 2018. Previous to this I spent 6 years working for Chiquito.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

My dream is to visit Iceland. I love photography so it would be amazing to explore and photograph the landscapes but most importantly I would love to see the Northern Lights!

What is your favourite tipple?

Long Island Ice Tea or a Red Leg spiced rum & Coke.

If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?

Penn & Teller the magicians

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

Teleportation, travel anywhere around the world in an instant!

Matt Godwin
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Tara Buffini - Operations Manager

When you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakspear on the 29th January 2018. I was at Metro Pub Co before, which is the gastro pub division within Greene King.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Mentoring young boys who came from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them get a better start in life.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

Japan. It's just always sonewhere I've fancied visiting.

Who is your hero?

Elizabeth the 1st. A queen who lived in an age where woman were not acknowledged or particularly respected. She overcame these prejudices and is now viewed as one of the most respected and revered British monarchs of all time.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate and yet more chocolate!

Tara Buffini
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Sophie Johnson - Operations Manager

When did you start at Brakspear and where were you before?

I started at Brakspear in May 2018 after three years in casual dining at Bella Italia, Previous to that I worked in pubs at Mitchells and Butlers and am delighted to be back in the pub world!

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

I would buy my mum a Range Rover Sport to drive her four dogs around in, I would then go on Safari and stay at the Giraffe Hotel before putting the rest into a high interest savings account!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a teacher until I went on ‘school’s’ experience and spent a month in a primary school….never again!

What is your favourite dessert?

Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream

What is your favourite tipple?

Espresso Martini – I love coffee so this is my perfect cocktail

Sophie Johnson
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Vicky Manning - Financial Accountant

When did you join Brakspear and where were you before?

I joined Brakspear in August 2017, I was previously working for an IT company.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

An army of puppies.

What skill would you like to learn and why?

I wish I could cook, I spend far too much money on takeaways.

What is your favourite dessert?

It has to be bread and butter pudding.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Anywhere covered in snow.

Vicky Manning
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