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Tragic legacy forces pub sale

PUBLISHED: 21:36 05 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 March 2010

A WOODBRIDGE licensee who is desperately trying to sell her pub to rid herself of tragic memories today told of how her life is being left in limbo by council officials.

A WOODBRIDGE licensee who is desperately trying to sell her pub to rid herself of tragic memories today told of how her life is being left in limbo by council officials.

Ellen Holyoak, owner of the Seckford Arms in Seckford Street has been trying to sell the pub since the death of her husband two years ago.

As she has found it impossible to sell as a going concern, the 64-year-old decided to try and sell it as a house.

First she has to gain planning permission for a change of use but Woodbridge Town Council has recommended that Suffolk Coastal throw out the application.

They felt that the closure of the pub, which doubles as a bed and breakfast would be a loss of an important amenity to the town as well as an employment site.

But behind the council policies is a tragic story of a woman who is desperate to start a new life after the death of her husband and whose nerves have been left in tatters following a recent burglary.

Mrs Holyoak and husband Alf were childhood sweethearts and had travelled the world together for several years before coming to Woodbridge to help their son Paul run the Seckford Arms.

But that was the beginning of all their problems and two years ago after suffering with a history of depression, Alf took his own life.

Ellen said: "Paul couldn't cope on his own so we came back to help him.

"It was the worst thing we ever did."

Coming to terms with her husband's death has been hard and Ellen has managed to struggle on without him with the help of their three children Paul, Diane and Jennette.

But trade at the pub has gradually been dwindling and she feels she can no longer stay.

She is planning to go and live in London with her daughter Diane before hopefully travelling once more to the countries she visited with her husband.

Although a report by Suffolk Coastal states that there should be no problem in a change of use, Mrs Holyoak is still living in limbo until the final decision is made.

She said: "It makes me feel like I am just living here waiting for someone to say yes you can go or no you can't.

"I feel like a second class citizen – I don't know what I will do if I get turned down."

Being broken into a few weeks ago was the final straw for Mrs Holyoak after she came downstairs one morning to find windows smashed and the tills gone.

She said: "It was very hard for me to face that.

"My nerves are in tatters now."

Mrs Holyoak was scornful that councillors thought that the loss of the pub would mean a loss of a workplace and amenity for the town.

She said: "Business is nothing to what it was here four or five years ago.

"You couldn't move in here then, but every pub is starting to struggle now.

"I have had people to look round but no-one is interested in taking it on as a trade."

The application is due to be considered by Suffolk Coastal's south area development sub-committee on Wednesday.

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