Landlady of The White Swan at Hebden Bridge who has overcome floods and widowhood celebrates 40 years in the pub trade
Elizabeth Wood took over The White Swan in 1981 with her husband Henry, but following his death in 1999 she has run the popular and traditional local alone - and is now determined to be one of the rergion's first wet-led venues to re-open.
Elizabeth has faced adversity before, having overcome the challenge of being flooded twice in the past five years when the River Heb burst its banks.
The White Swan hosts community events and fundraisers, and is known for its traditional decor despite innovations introduced by Elizabeth such as a food menu and beer garden.
She received the award from the pub's owners, Star Pubs & Bars.
“ 'Fight the good fight’ is my motto, so I’m remaining positive and planning a big party to celebrate the end of Covid when things get back to normal. It was heartbreaking to be closed at Christmas for the first time in 40 years and to have an empty pub for so many months. It has been extremely hard for the regulars who live on their own. People are desperate for the pub to re-open and to meet up. I can’t wait to welcome them back,” said Elizabeth.
She admits she was initially a reluctant landlady before falling in love with licensed trade.
“It was Henry’s dream to have a pub. I wasn’t keen so we agreed to do it for two years. But, when I moved in, I felt this was where I was meant to be and I’ve never looked back.”
The pub still has spindle-back chairs, open fires and a display of beer jugs and is known for its warm welcome and excellent cask ale.
“It’s like stepping back in time. The most common reaction from new customers when they walk in is ‘oh, a proper pub’.”
Many of Elizabeth’s regulars have been coming to the pub for more than 40 years and she is now serving her third generation of some Hebden Bridge families.
“Mums and dads who were customers in their youth know that their 18-year-olds will be safe here, so we’ve got a real mix of ages.”
Star's area manager for Halifax and Huddersfield, Anthony Briggs, added: “You couldn’t find a friendlier pub, people feel comfortable coming in on their own as someone will always talk to them. Thanks to Elizabeth, The White Swan has stood the test of a time and is a Hebden Bridge institution with a loyal following of all ages.
"It’s an incredible achievement that Elizabeth has run a thriving community pub for so long and I've every confidence that with her determination and resilience the pub will bounce back quickly after the challenges of flooding and Covid."