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Landlords of Rede Plough near Bury St Edmunds Brian and Joyce Desborough set for retirement after 40 years





After 40 years at the bar, the landlords of one of the region’s prettiest pubs are calling time.

Retirement beckons for Brian, 75, and Joyce Desborough, 73, who took on the Rede Plough, near Bury St Edmunds, in 1982.

The couple moved into the pub after falling in love with it at first sight.

Joyce and Brian Desborough, of the Rede Plough, are retiring after 40 years at the pub. Picture: Mark Westley
Joyce and Brian Desborough, of the Rede Plough, are retiring after 40 years at the pub. Picture: Mark Westley

Joyce said: “We had a confectionary and tobacconist shop in Bedfordshire, it was a busy place and we were used to traffic. As we drove to Rede I said to Brian ‘there’s nothing out here, there’s no shops, nothing’. We pulled up to the pub, we fell in love with it before we even walked in. We went inside and that was it, end of story.

“Everybody says the Plough is a chocolate box picture and our former business was called The Chocolate Box, it was fate.”

Joyce said the pub was very different back then.

The couple moved into the pub after falling in love with it at first sight. Picture: Mark Westley
The couple moved into the pub after falling in love with it at first sight. Picture: Mark Westley

“Pub food was bar snacks and a Ploughman’s, the pub had a pool table and fruit machine and dartboard, but things change and we evolved with it,” she said.

“We started doing specials every day, at first we did one and then two and three and then more and more. That’s how things have gone and it has been great.

“But we could not have done this without the amazing staff we have had over 40 years, without them we couldn’t run the business. We have stayed in touch with many of them and now see their grown-up children in the pub.”

Brian and Joyce said part of the thrill of running the pub was never knowing who might walk through the door.

The couple have no plans for retirement other than adjusting to not living above their workplace. Picture: Mark Westley
The couple have no plans for retirement other than adjusting to not living above their workplace. Picture: Mark Westley

From cast and crew of Campion, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Patrick’s Pantry, Location Location Location and singing star Katherine Jenkins, the Plough has attracted a few celebrities over the years despite its rural location.

Meanwhile, among the vivid memories of their time at the pub is one particularly cold winter in the 1980s, when customers went to leave at the end of the night and opened the door to discover they were snowed in.

Customers had to stay the night – ‘that was great fun’ – while the next day Brian and Joyce’s two children walked to the main road to build an igloo and ended up on the news that evening after a passing television crew stopped to film them.

And while the couple’s last shift is on August 27, they are not planning on moving too far when they retire.

“We feel so emotional about it, but we have got to ring that bell and call time. I am sure someone will be taking the pub over and we hope they enjoy it as much as we have,” said Joyce.

“We are moving into Bury as we love it here and we love Bury. We know so many people, it is home.

“Our lasting memories will be of all the amazing and wonderful people we have had the pleasure to meet and greet and serve and all the people who have supported us over the years, some who have been coming here since we moved in.

“It is a lot to give up but we feel it is time.”

The couple have no plans for retirement other than adjusting to not living above their workplace, which is all they have done their entire married life.

“We want to see what it is like not to work every day, although it scares me a little,” said Joyce.

“We also want to see what it is like to live in a house just us two as we have always been ‘at work’. It will be a change to be just the two of us.

“But we will miss the people the most, especially in the evenings – we have never sat down and watched television in the evening as we have always been at work.”