Veteran Sue Lampon has been a landlady for 31 years – and she has no intention of slowing up any time soon.
Sue runs the pumps at the Queen’s Hotel in Queen’s Road, Gosport.
She says that as long as she’s in good health and customers keep coming, she intends to keep going at her beloved pub for at least another 10 years.
She started at the Queen’s Hotel in 1983 and has not looked back since.
She insists on doing a lot of the work that goes into a pub herself and squeezes in the time to walk her dog Stanley each day to keep fit and active.
And she puts her young and positive outlook on life down to the fact her customers are loyal and kind and are like a big family.
She admits that she often finds herself acting as a doting mum to some of her punters.
‘I always keep myself active and I keep a steady ship,’ Sue said.
‘The people keep me going as well as everything else.
‘I have got myself one big family. As long as you keep to the standards you set yourself then you’ll do fine.
‘It’s when you drop your standards that you have got a problem.’
And while Sue’s pub is a free house, she says she’s got problems just like those which are run by tenants – people who hold a lease on behalf of a company – and run by managers.
She said the main problem is the fact pubs are being out-priced by supermarkets – and feels they will one day mark the end of back-street locals like her own.
It comes after Jo Clarke, landlady of The Brewer’s Arms in Milton, Portsmouth – which is owned by Fuller’s – told The News she doesn’t know whether she’ll resign her contract next year because it all depends on how well her trade is going.
And the British Queen, in Buckland, Portsmouth, is locked in a battle over who is responsible for picking up the bill to repair the building.
Sue said: ‘It’s definitely getting harder.
‘I don’t think it’s the smoking ban that has created any problems.
‘The problem is the supermarkets.
‘It doesn’t matter whether you are a free house or not, you just can’t compete with them.
‘I feel sorry for the tied houses though.’
Sue holds an annual beer festival in October, and normally around 30 ales from around the country are on offer.
One of her customers recently did the London Marathon for Grace, a charity that supports women with gynaecological cancers.
Sue prides herself on running a traditional pub with a range of real ales.
There’s five on at any one time at the Queen’s Hotel and customers can choose from around 14 different ones each month.
About 80 per cent of the pub’s trade comes from the sale of ale that comes from all over the country.
And Sue says she’s able to be flexible because of her status as a free house – a title also held by the nearby Junction Tavern, in Gosport.
Sue said: ‘It’s what the customers like, they like variety.
‘People like me and Deana Geary at the Junction Tavern can offer that because we are free houses.’
Sue took over the Queen’s Hotel with her husband Eddie, who died in 1998.
They made a few changes to the pub which has ensured it is now a lasting success.
‘Things are a lot different now,’ Sue said.
‘It was a very, very busy pub, and people have grown up now I think.
‘The drinking culture has changed.’
Sue said her best times for business were the first three years of the 1990s – but still likes to think she is doing well.
‘When you run a pub, you need to think about everything including things like whether you hire staff or do things yourself.
‘I do a lot of the work myself because you need to cut your cloth accordingly.’
But Sue still has a team of three staff behind her who help to run the place smoothly.
‘The years have flown by,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t feel like I have been here for 31 years.’