Monday, 20 January 2020

Pub landlady celebrates 21st year behind the bar

A PUB landlady has celebrated the 40th anniversary of her arrival in Wargrave.

Jayne Worrall, who has been in charge of the Bull in High Street for a total 21 years over three periods, first came to the village on January 8, 1980.

The 67-year-old has won several awards while at the Brakspear pub, including pub of the year in 2003.

Her latest award, for best Sunday roast, came in November.

She counts former Prime Minister Theresa May among her customers.

Miss Worrall, a former air stewardess with BOAC, first ran the pub with her then partner in 1980 when they moved from Mortimer.

She recalled: “My partner really wanted a pub so I became involved. We applied for a pub in Bix called The Fox, which is no longer there.

“We didn’t get it but the person who was here before me did and so this place became available.

“I knew this was the place for me the first time I came. Usually when you are taking over a pub, there is a big decision to make but for me there was no decision. Forty years later I am still here.”

Miss Worrall said she felt at home in Wargrave immediately.

“It is a very different village to the one I first came to but it is still a great community,” she said. “A lot of people have come and gone but there is something special about it. There are lots of people in Wargrave who are an integral part of my time in the village and I hope they continue to be a part of my life for many years along with new faces.”

The couple remained at the pub for four years when they left to run the Rising Sun in Witheridge Hill.

When she and her partner separated, Miss Worrall left the licensing trade and spent 10 years in the IT industry working in technical support and designing databases.

She then returned to the Bull in 1998, this time on her own, and remained for another 10 years.

She then bought a free house pub Devon but this didn’t work out and in 2013 she returned to Wargrave and has remained at the pub ever since.

Miss Worrall says that despite Wargrave’s high street businesses having declined over the years, trade at the pub has remained strong.

“It is a shame to see the way the village has changed,” she said. “We hardly have any shops on the high street anymore. If you don’t use them, you will lose them.

“When you lose pubs, you lose communities. My family would religiously go to the pub on a Friday because we enjoyed it and we wanted to support our local pub.”

Her regulars include not only Mrs May, in whose Maidenhead constituency the pub is located, but also Stan Calendar, a local builder, who has been frequenting the pub for at least the last 21 years.

Miss Worrall says the interior of the 15th century pub is unrecognisable compared with when she first arrived in the village.

The old beams and a fireplace have been exposed and are now part of the character of the Bull.

The pub is featured in a number of books on haunted inns and Miss Worrall says she has heard the screams of a former landlady, who is rumoured to have been banished by her husband in the 1700s.

She said: “This pub has so much character and history.”

In 1981, she buried a time capsule at the pub, which included a bottle of ale, a photograph of her and her former partner and a copy of the Henley Standard.

She said: “I have had three lives here but I have always had a good relationship with Brakspear.”

Miss Worrall has not had a holiday since 2003. When she won pub of the year, she received a prize of a trip to Athens but exchanged it for a holiday to Cornwall with her mother.

She said: “Anybody who has a pub will know it is not just a job, it is a way of life.

“I believe unless you really enjoy it then you should get out because it is all-consuming. It is not Monday to Friday 9-5.

“Fortunately, I have great staff and I couldn’t do it without them.”

She hopes to visit her brother Peter in Spain later this year.

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