CHEERS! Husband and wife Pat and John Royal are calling time after more than two decades as landlords of a Sunderland pub.
The couple are stepping down after 21 years behind the bar at Oddies, in Hylton Road, Millfield.
Now Pat and John, both 59 and married for 38 years, are looking forward to spending more time with their six grandchildren.
John, originally from Deptford, was the second consecutive generation of his family in the pub trade, working as a cellarman at the Whitburn Lodge, in Whitburn, and Free Gardeners Arms, in Sunderland.
His great-grandfather ran the Duke of Wellington, in Deptford.
The tradition is set to carry on, as son Chris, 37, and his partner Rachel are now running the nearby historic Mountain Daisy pub.
When Pat and John started, pubs would close in the afternoon, a spirit and mixer was 30p and pints 80p.But dramatic changes in the trade made them decide to call it a day.
“Our lease came up this year and the way the market is, we decided just to go for it,” said John.
“The pub trade has just gone flat. It started when the breweries sold the pubs off to holding companies, then there was the smoking ban and cheap booze in supermarkets.
“There’s also health and safety – people used to go for a pint in their lunch hour.”
But despite the decline in the traditional local boozer, the couple have many fond memories of Oddies, which they still call home until new tenants move in.
Regulars included The Cuckoo Club, a group of elderly gents who enjoyed regular away days with the couple, and their female counterparts, The Weathergirls.
“We had some great regulars and we’d like to say thank you to them all and thank them for the friendship and the great laughs, as well as all the staff and Scott Laney, who did the entertainment on our last night.”
The couple regularly held charity events and their final evening was a fund-raiser for the Peter David Lane Trust Fund, set up in memory of a 13-year-old who died after falling from a rope swing.