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Last orders for former Newmarket pub landlady Sheila McNally who ran The Palomino

The funeral service for former publican Sheila McNally, who ran The Palomino in Newmarket for more than 30 years, will take place at Cambridge Crematorium on Monday.

Mrs McNally and her late husband, Barry, took over the pub in 1987 and she continued alone after his death in 2010.

She retired in 2018 due to ill health and moved with her dog, Abby, the last in a long line of German shepherds, to a bungalow in Freshfields in Newmarket. She died on August 21 in Cherry Hinton care home at the age of 84.

Sheila McNally when she retired from The Palomino pub in Newmarket in October 2018
Sheila McNally when she retired from The Palomino pub in Newmarket in October 2018

Mrs McNally was born in Enfield as an only child and won a scholarship to the Tottenham High School for Girls before going on to work for Phoenix Insurance in the City of London for some years during which she met, and married, Barry whose parents were publicans.

She left work when her daughter, Loraine, was born and was pregnant with her son Peter in 1967 when her mother was tragically killed in a road accident and her father died just five weeks later.

The couple’s first venture into the pub trade was The Crown And Cushion in Woolwich. “It was just up the road from the Royal Artillery barracks and near the Woolwich ferry so it was a really busy pub,” said Loraine. “We were there for about five years before we moved to The Stone Quarry in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex.

From Sussex the family moved to Cambridge where Sheila and Barry took on the popular city-centre pub The Still And Sugarloaf.

Their last pub before the move to Newmarket was The Jubilee, also in Cambridge, where they spent about five years.

“Mum was always very interested in spiritualism and a medium once told her that she would move to a place surrounded by horses and to a pub which would have the name of a horse,” said Loraine. “And she ended up in Newmarket in a pub called The Palomino.”

During her time in Cambridge, Mrs McNally had been an active member of the ladies auxilliary of the city’s Licensed Victuallers’ Association helping to organise an annual dinner dance and other charity fund-raising events, something she continued during her time at The Palomino.

“She was a great organiser who dealt with all the paperwork and the business side of the pub,” said Loraine. “Dad always used to say it was no good asking him about anything like that, he’d always say ‘Speak to Sheila’.”

After his death Sheila continued to manage all aspects of a busy pub, running the pool, darts and pétanque teams and organising the Newmarket and District Darts League for many years.

The Palomino closed down after her retirement and was later demolished to make way for a housing development.

Speaking to the Journal after a party thrown by friends and customers to mark her retirement, Mrs McNally said “There were lots of tears. It has been hard to keep going because I can’t walk so well these days and I decided it was time to go. Life is going to be a lot quieter than I am used to but I will have to get used to it.”

She leaves her daughter and son-in-law, Loraine and Adrian Martin, son Peter and his partner, Mandy, and grandchildren Ryan, and his wife Charlotte, and Jake and Ethan McNally.

The funeral at the West Chapel of Cambridge Crematorium will be at 2pm on Monday, followed by a gathering at Kings in Newmarket beginning at about 3.45pm.

Flowers may be sent to Weymans Funeral Directors at 26 Abbey Walk, Cambridge CB1 2QJ.