It was a happy occasion for a Stowmarket resident, as she returned to her old boozer.
The last time 88-year-old Sheila Sanders, a resident at Care UK’s Cedrus House, on Bittern Crescent, called last orders was more than 20 years ago – but her pint pulling skills are still on point.
Alongside her husband Jim, she ran the Kings Head Inn in Mendlesham for 27 years, before handing the keys over in 2000. Prior to this, they ran three pubs together, starting from 1965: the Gladstone Arms in Combs Ford, the Angel in Bungay and the Cardinal’s Hat in Harleston.
“Jim was the one who wanted to be a landlord,” Sheila explained. “I said, let’s give it a go!”
After hearing Sheila’s stories from her days as a pub landlady, and as part of the home’s Wishing Tree initiative, the team at Cedrus House reached out to the Kings Head Inn’s landlord, who agreed to help and even contacted some of her former regulars.
On the day, Sheila pulled a few pints, and even rang the bell one more time – bringing back some precious memories.
Sheila said: “I’d go and cook dinner for Jim in the evenings; I wanted to make sure he’d have a hot meal. Once it was ready, I’d yell from the landing, and all the customers would hear and shout at him ‘Jim, your dinner is ready – don’t let it go cold!’. They’d hear me come down the stairs and say ‘Sheila’s coming!’.”
“I’ve had to kick customers out too, including one who squirted me with the soda siphon – he thought he was being funny! He came back groveling the next day. I let him in but told him ‘don’t you ever do that again!’.”
After retiring, Sheila and her husband built a bungalow on a plot of land right behind the pub, complete with a gate giving them direct access to the beer garden.
“That way, we could go whenever we wanted. It was hard work, but we had a lot of fun over the years, and made a lot of friends.
“It was great to go back; the place hasn’t changed a bit, and I enjoyed pulling a pint – although I’m too old to work in a pub now!”
Deepa Reju, Home Manager at Cedrus House, said: “Sheila is definitely a character, and she always delights us with stories from her time working as a landlady.
“Our Wishing Tree initiative exists to enable residents to revisit the things that mattered to them most or create new memories. Sheila and her husband ran the Kings Head Inn for 27 years, during which time they saw their children grow up, met countless people and most likely pulled thousands of pints; you could tell she was right at home the minute we walked in.
“We had an amazing day out – Sheila certainly hadn’t forgotten how to pull the perfect pint!”
Cedrus House is a modern care home which provides full-time residential, nursing and dementia care, as well as short-term respite care. Designed to enable its residents to live enjoyable and fulfilling lives, the care home has its very own cinema and hair salon, and there is plenty of space both in and outdoors for relaxation and recreation.