SWINDON and North Wiltshire’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) branch is raising a glass to its 600th member.

The news is the latest in a series of milestones for the group, which encompasses Swindon along with Cricklade, Royal Wootton Bassett, Highworth, Wroughton and Marlborough.

The branch reached 500 members in late 2009 and is aiming to sign up 750 people by 2014.

The 600th member is Fay Arbon, who spoke of her concern at the alcohol duty, which automatically rises at each budget on a scale introduced by the previous government.

She said: “I became a member of CAMRA as I really enjoy a good pint of real ale, plus I’m concerned about the number of pubs that have closed over the last few years – not only in Wiltshire but also in York, where I go on holiday each year. In York in 2010, four pubs closed down during my two-week stay there.

“Since becoming a member I have therefore signed the petition and sent an email to my MP against the beer escalator.

“I believe that joining together via CAMRA gives us all the best chance to have our voice heard, so I really value the work that CAMRA does.”

Fay enjoys stouts, porters and any kind of dark beer from her local, The Sun Inn at Coate Water.

She said: “My favourites are Marston’s Oyster Stout and a great pint from York Brewery called Ghost.

“I’m not very keen on pale beers, in particular those with a citrus flavour, so I can struggle in the summer months to find the ideal pint.”

But Fay has enjoyed CAMRA’s ‘Mild in May’ promotion to try tipples more to her liking in the warmer weather.

She said: “I really like trying different and new brews, which beer festivals are great for.

“Two that I never miss each year are the Swindon Beerex in the autumn and the Devizes Beer Festival in summer.

“It’s at those festivals that my husband and I both discovered CAMRA.

“What a surprise to find out I’m the 600th Swindon member – here’s to the 1000th!”

The total number of CAMRA members nationally is just under 140,000.

People can join by filling in the membership application form in the latest edition of The Rising Tun magazine or visit http://www.camra.org.uk/join