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Ipswich Grand Old Duke of York managers celebrate memories - and reveal biggest challenges facing pubs

PUBLISHED: 16:27 12 July 2017

The Grand Old Duke of York in Woodbridge Road

The Grand Old Duke of York in Woodbridge Road

Archant

A mum and daughter who ran an Ipswich pub for the last five years have hailed the "amazing customers" and "special memories" from their time behind the bar before its closure this month.

The Grand Old Duke of York's live music events were an important part of its events programme. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York's live music events were an important part of its events programme. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

Debbie Blacker, 48, and 32-year-old daughter Rosie Whitney have run the Grand Old Duke of York pub in Woodbridge Road for the last five years, but on Saturday called time on their stint running the business.

The pair have faced increasing financial pressures in recent months, which, coupled with a long-term illness for Debbie’s husband and Rosie’s two-children demanding more time, meant they felt it was time to move on.

The Grand Old Duke of York was a hub for many people in the community. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York was a hub for many people in the community. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

But both have said they have nothing but wonderful memories of their time there, and thanked all their customers, supporters and colleagues.

“The people we have got to meet and the friends we have made have been great,” Rosie said.

The Grand Old Duke of York hashelped Christmas dinners among its many events. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York hashelped Christmas dinners among its many events. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

“We have had wakes, band nights, a Lithuanian wedding reception, great darts and pool teams – we have built up so many memories and we are so proud because we didn’t realise how much of an impact we had on people.”

Debbie, who has been in the industry for 30 years at various pubs both behind the bar and as a chef, added: “I always knew I wanted my own pub, and every time I think about our last five years it is with a big smile.”

The Grand Old Duke of York has thanked all its staff, supporters and customers. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York has thanked all its staff, supporters and customers. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

The pair are taking a well-earned rest before deciding what to pursue next, but for both it will involve more time with the family.

The pub’s lease meanwhile has been sold back to the building’s owner Cattermole.

The Grand Old Duke of York has thanked all its staff, supporters and customers. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York has thanked all its staff, supporters and customers. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

But Debbie has said more and more pubs are becoming a victim to supermarkets, and has called for more regulation on prices for alcohol across all sellers to give pubs a chance.

“I think we are going to see more and more community pubs going on their backside, for me I feel it’s the supermarkets.

The Grand Old Duke of York went to town on the decorations for Halloween. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORKThe Grand Old Duke of York went to town on the decorations for Halloween. Picture: GRAND OLD DUKE OF YORK

“When I worked at the Fat Cat you couldn’t buy an ale in stores – pubs had a niche so you couldn’t get it anywhere else,” she said.

“You cannot put your beers above £4, people haven’t got the money they will just stay at home.

“Regulating the pricing of alcohol and benefits for pub traders, that’s the biggest thing.”

She added: “We just want to say a massive thank you to all our customers for their support and memories we created together.”

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