Early Christmas present as pub gets £125k makeover
- Credit: Sonya Duncan/Archant
A businesswoman who found love at the pub she now runs has been given an early Christmas present of a £125,000 revamp.
Harriet Donohoe took over running the Douglas Bader, in Martlesham Heath, in March 2020 just as the country went into lockdown.
The pub, which is the only one in the village, has always been a special place for the 45-year-old as her parent's local growing up and where she met her partner Paul Coomber while working behind the bar.
After acting as its assistant manager for seven years, she took the plunge to run it and hopes it will have the same special place in the community's heart as it does hers.
Harriet said: "The pub has a wonderful warm friendly atmosphere that I’ve never found anywhere else, and I jumped at the chance to take it on. It wasn’t ideal timing, as the pandemic had just hit, but I’ve no regrets.
"We had so much support saying you will get through this, you will be fine and it was.
"The village has shown how much having a good pub means to them, and they’ve supported me every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough.
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"Last Christmas was difficult for many with gatherings of families and friends off the cards; I hope that having a new-look local will help make this Christmas extra special.”
Paul, 54, added: "You come in, it's like Cheers, everyone knows your name. We say how are you, we know their drink so they do not have to ask, we want to be that traditional pub."
The pub is currently undergoing a £125,000 revamp which has been paid for by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, with works aimed to be completed by mid-December.
It will remain open throughout with customers able to see the refurbishments which include a redecoration of the exterior adding new lighting, signage, and a new 70-seater patio in addition to its 100-seater garden.
Inside, work will separate the bar and games zone from the lounge and dining area, install bi-fold doors to open directly into the garden and a kitchen refit.
Since reopening the couple have started up two pool teams and become a hub for organisations in the area ranging from a knitting club to a group of Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts, while overlooking the village green.
Harriet said: "I feel very privileged this is happening for us and very grateful that we have been given this opportunity to take this pub forward."
Danni Fraylich, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager, said: “Harriet has given The Douglas Bader the TLC it needed and made it into a thriving, welcoming local despite the pandemic.
"The Douglas Bader has something for everyone – a lovely garden, good food and a brilliant games room - the refurbishment means people can enjoy them to the utmost. It will take the pub to another level and help it thrive for the long term.”