Portsmouth landlady leaves after 16 years behind the bar

LEAVING Roisin Kehoe-Pank behind the bar at The Old Vic. Picture: Sarah Standing (131245-3417)
LEAVING Roisin Kehoe-Pank behind the bar at The Old Vic. Picture: Sarah Standing (131245-3417)
From left: Nick Tutton of CBRE, Guy Jackson of Lambert Smith Hampton, Tom Hughes of Canmoor Developments, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones and Robin Dickens of Lambert Smith Hampton. Picture: Polymedia

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AN ICON of Portsmouth’s pub scene is retiring.

The landlady of The Old Vic in St Paul’s Road, Roisin Kehoe-Pank, is leaving after more than 16 years managing the venue.

Ms Kehoe-Pank, 58, said she was looking forward to an active retirement even though she was sad to leave the pub.

‘It’s very sad but I’ll still be involved with the community,’ she said.

‘All my friends are here.’

Ms Kehoe-Pank said although many people thought of The Old Vic as a ‘gay pub’ its doors had always been open to everyone.

She said: ‘It’s always been inclusive.

‘You have a lot of office people coming in at lunchtime and it doesn’t matter if they’re gay, straight or indifferent.

‘It’s a community pub, it can’t be labelled as gay or straight.’

During Ms Kehoe-Pank’s tenure The Old Vic became known for its live entertainment, hosting many concerts, comedy shows and drag shows.

The pub even hosted a christening a few years ago, which Ms Keyhoe-Pank said was ‘fantastic’.

She said there had also been fundraising events for The Rowans Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Ms Keyhoe-Pank said she planned to spend more time raising money for charity.

‘There’s nothing stopping me now because I’ve got more free time on my hands.’

Ms Keyhoe-Pank said a lot had changed in Portsmouth during her time at the pub.

She said she was pleased to see that society had become more tolerant of the gay and lesbian community.

‘You’ve still got homophobes out there, by all means, but that’s just people scared of their own sexuality, I think.’

But she said not everything had changed for the better.

She said independent pubs were finding it increasingly difficult to compete with chain pub companies such as JD Wetherspoon.

‘The big companies are taking all of the money and there’s not much left to go around for the rest of us.

‘There’s not going to be many of us around much longer – it’s such an awful shame.’

She said the smoking ban and the availability of cheap alcohol from supermarkets were other factors making life difficult for independent pubs.

The Old Vic is currently closed following a farewell party for Ms Kehoe-Pank.

She said the venue would soon reopen under new management.