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Pair move in to keep their local going

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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A YEOVIL couple who were worried their local pub had seen its last orders decided to take it over themselves.

Sharon and Joe Mooney watched as The Great Western Hotel, on Camborne Grove, closed temporarily last year and then feared it would finally be time at the bar when temporary tenants left in April.

So the couple, who have lived a few doors down from the pub for the past seven years, decided to run it for themselves.

When Mr Mooney, 45, took redundancy from the Royal Navy last year, it gave the couple the perfect opportunity to pursue their dream of running a pub.

Mrs Mooney, 44, said: "We've wanted to run one for a few years but it's a case of being financially able. When this pub first came up we did look but we were not in a financial position to do it at the time.

"When it closed again last year, we thought, 'let's do it'. It's our local. It's a great little pub. It's got a good community based around it. The locals love it. We were fed up of having nowhere to go that's a good old-fashioned English pub, where you get food, with a nice atmosphere and friendly service."

The move has come as quite a career change for the couple. Mrs Mooney was previously a post woman in Yeovil and her husband was a Petty Officer in the Navy spending months at a time at sea. New landlord Mr Mooney said: "This time last year I was on HMS Ocean off the coast of Libya doing night raids.

"I don't miss the Navy, though they have tried re-calling me twice for the fuel strike and the Olympics. This is more fun, I get to come home every night."

Enjoying the extra time they get to spend with each other, the couple have roped most of their family into doing something at the pub.

Mrs Mooney's son Dan Copplestone is the chef – and has already served up rabbit and venison as alternatives to the traditional Sunday roast – and Mr Mooney's daughter Caitlin is a waitress.

Mrs Mooney added: "I love it. I love people anyway, I'm a bit of a people person as all the residents who I've delivered to well know.

"I would talk to my own shadow. It's just so different. You get so many colourful characters coming in – some more than others."

However, she did warn that life for publicans is not plain sailing at the minute.

"It's extremely difficult for pubs right now," she added. "It's not just the fact that supermarkets can sell things so cheap, it's the social climate as well. Everyone's struggling at the moment and people tend to stay at home.

"I think all the pubs are feeling the pinch and if we can make this work in this climate we will be laughing when we come out of the recession."

The next goal for the couple is to start winning some awards for their produce and they are aiming to make it into the Campaign for Real Ale's Good Beer Guide.

The pub was recently awarded five stars – the highest rating – in food hygiene from South Somerset District Council.

This is an increase from three stars which was the pub's previous rating.

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