A HUSBAND and wife team are calling time on their tenancy at one of Chester’s best loved pubs.
Joe and Helen Gildea have announced they will be leaving the Ship Victory, on George Street, early in the New Year after almost 20 years at the helm.
The Grade II listed pub, the only pub to be called The Ship Victory in Britain, was named Britain’s most charitable at 2012’s Great British Pub Awards after the pub’s tireless efforts to raise more than £100,000 for the Countess of Chester Hospital’s Breast Care Unit, in memory of Joe’s daughter Angela, who died of breast cancer in 2002.
The pub will close once the couple leave.
“I have been here since 1994 and we have made this decision with a heavy heart, but we think it is the right time,” said Joe, 74, who set up the Angela Gildea Memorial Fund shortly after the death of his and his former wife Ruth’s daughter.
Joe said: “This has been our home and has been an enormous part of our lives. We have a lot of memories from this place.
“It has been our home and we have laughed and cried here.
“When we finally close up, which will probably be very early in the New Year, it will be an emotional time for not only us, but for the people who have come through our doors and become regulars, and for the wonderful staff we have here.”
Helen, 53, who revealed the total raised for the fund now stood at more than £107,000, said she and Joe were now looking forward to spending some quality time with each other, after marrying a little over 12 months ago.
“We are looking forward to spending some time together – at last,” said Helen.
“At the moment we are like ships that pass in the night. Joe isn’t getting any younger and we have to think about his health and wellbeing as well. He needs to take it a bit slower, so that’s why now feels like the right time for us to call it a day.
“It is going to be hard to say goodbye, we have a lot of friends here who have become like an extended family. They have helped keep us going and helped us to raise such a fantastic amount for the fund.
“The likes of Martin Critchley, who helped to organise the Turkey Trot fundraisers that we did at Chester Racecourse, have really helped us over the years. There have been so many people wo have been good to us.”
Joe has no plans to retire altogether and will now focus his energy on raising even more money for the fund. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sit around and do nothing, I want to be able to keep raising as much as we can in Angela’s memory,” he said.
“It is the end of an era here but it is something we will both look back on with great pride. We have achieved some fantastic things while we have been here and it will be tough to say goodbye.
“It has been a tough climate in recent times but we have always been kept going by the great people who have come through our doors. We will definitely miss the place and, more importantly, the people.”