Long-serving licensee receives special award from pub chain

Elizabeth Wood, manager, The White Swan

Star Pubs & Bars has given a long-service award to one of its licensees for notching up 40 years in the trade.

Elizabeth Wood has managed Hebden Bridge’s The White Swan on Bridge Gate for four decades, establishing it as a hub of the community by hosting events to bring people together and fundraising for local good causes.

The award recognises the contribution Ms Wood has made to the town during her four decades at the helm.

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Over the last five years, she has dealt with two major floods from the River Heb and disruption from Covid restrictions.

Despite the challenges she is not ‘calling time’ and is determined to be one of the first wet-led pubs to reopen in the region on 12 April.

“’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,” she said.

“It was heart-breaking 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 reopen and to meet up. I can’t wait to welcome them back.”

Ms Wood – who is Hebden Bridge’s longest-serving licensee – took over The White Swan with her husband Henry at the start of the eighties and has run it singlehanded since his death in 1999.

“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.”

While Ms Wood has introduced great pub food, created a beautiful garden and ensures her drinks range is always up to date, little else has changed at The White Swan since the 1980s.

The pub still has an old-fashioned décor with 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’,” she said.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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