Lindfield publicans Peter and Elaine Brown celebrated 20 years behind the bar of The Red Lion in style with a weekend of events.
Following his father into the trade, Peter had run pubs in Croydon and Bromley before seeking a better place to bring up a young family in Sussex.
After 20 years in the area, the couple are the longest serving landlords in the village.
“The regulars were a little sceptical at first,” said Peter, “but we can now truly describe ourselves as locals.”
The pub has changed during this time, but mostly in an evolutionary way, keeping the customers on board.
With long hours seven days a week, running a pub is a way of life not a job, the couple agreed. The key to success is consistency and giving a warm welcome to all: “Everyone gets treated equally,” Peter explained.
“Our regulars are our bread and butter,” he said, “the pub is full of characters and we like to think we are the hub of the community.”
For 20 years, The Red Lion has been the backdrop for Peter and Elaine’s lives and they say they are famous for their New Year’s Eve bash.
When asked about the highlights of their time there, Peter was gently reminded by his wife that they got married and their daughter was born while in Lindfield.
Barmaid Shirley Noyes said the couple must be good employers as she has worked for them for 19 years. Two of their children now work in the pub too, making it a family affair.
Giving money to charity is important to Peter and Elaine and they have taken to focusing on a particular organisation each year.
This year they are supporting St Peter and St James Hospice in Lewes and during their weekend of celebrations held a pub quiz and raffle, helping to raise more than £900.
Local businesses chipped in, donating thirty-one prizes for the raffle including tickets for a Brighton and Hove Albion game, tea for two and a round of golf at a local course.
“Local rock legends” ‘In Yer Face’ got into the spirit. When asked what they play, Elaine and Shirley were in agreement that when they perform, they play anything and everything but no one remains seated.
Peter and Elaine are looking forward to the next 20 years in the pub and are planning a big refurb in the autumn: “Nothing structural,” said Peter, “but it will brighten the place up again.”