Husband and wife scrap sunny retirement abroad after selling home to save Bridgnorth pub that hosted their wedding
A Shropshire husband and wife scrapped their dream of a sunny retirement abroad in order to save a quaint village pub that hosted their wedding day from closure.
Mark and Tina Freeman sold their home in order to move to France and even toured Brittany for weeks looking for the perfect house to spend their final days in, until they realised they were searching for a community they say was already on their doorstep.
Having picked up the keys to The Danery in Quatford near Bridgnorth on January 13, Mark said about £60,000 and priceless help from the community meant the pub was able to reopen by the end of the month.
Mark said he and Tina had spent many nights over the last 20 years at the venue on Kidderminster Road, including the happiest of them all, and could not bare to see it perish into a state of disrepair.
The 53-year-old said: "The Danery's been a massive part of our lives for the last two decades. Both former owners have been very close friends of ours, we've got a relationship with the pub and even had our wedding there in 2008.
"We wanted to get it a year or so ago but couldn't raise the funds and since then we sold up and went to France to retire. We toured Brittany for a couple of weeks in October but couldn't find what we were looking for and realised we were looking for what we already had. We then came back to Quatford and realised what was going on."
Personal reasons had meant the previous owners could not continue to run the pub and it had instead been left to decline.
"It went from a thriving pub down to barely any customers, so we thought, 'we're not ready to go to France and France isn't ready for us'," added Mark.
"We've been going mad doing a complete refurbishment to brighten it all up with help from friends, family and local residents – we've even had old age pensioners in the garden and helping for free because it's their pub, the people's pub.
"My wife and I would have never got into the pub trade but this has always been our home and now it really is our home."
The watering hole holds even more prominence with its new owners as Tina, 55, has already spent four-and-a-half years working there.
Together with Mark, they now hire eight people - including the original chef and barmaid.
Mark added: "There's still work to do but we opened for drinks a week ago and food on Saturday and it just went absolutely crazy.
"It was jam-packed throughout the day with live music and clubs meeting here.
"There wasn't a single seat left in the building for the Sunday lunch and we hope that's the way it'll continue."