A WELL-KNOWN couple are retiring after more than two decades behind the bar of a popular pub.

Keith and Olga Stokoe, licensees of the Dr Syntax, in Prudhoe, stayed on earlier this year to safeguard the future of one of the oldest buildings in the town.

But now the pair will move on to pastures new in sunny Spain after another local couple have agreed to take on the running of the pub.

Since taking on the lease 21 years ago, Keith and Olga have created a family and dog-friendly community pub, with a reputation for sports and charity events.

They’ve introduced pool and darts teams, and extended and refurbished the pub twice, and theirs was the first pub in the area to have a dancefloor.

They have also given jobs to more than 100 of their regulars’ children.

Neither had any previous hospitality experience, meeting at the former SCA factory, now Essity, but are proud of what they’ve achieved.

“We’ve absolutely loved it for the 21 years that we’ve been there,” said Olga.

“We’ve had really good times out with football, bus trips away, and we’ve done a lot of charity dos, parties. We’ve just really enjoyed all the people.

"We’ve had a lot of support over the years with Prudhoe people, and people from out the area, and everyone mixing together – it’s been just so nice.

“Some of our staff have gone on to be doctors and teachers, we’re very proud of all the staff, they’ve all done well.

“We’re sad to leave, but after 21 years, we just needed to settle down and retire.”

Last year, to mark 20 years at the helm, Keith and Olga hosted a party for 200 regulars and former bar staff, complete with a buffet, live entertainment and a disco, to thank them for their support over the years.

Speaking at the time, Olga said: “When we enquired about taking on the pub, the previous owner said we wouldn’t be able to run it as we didn’t have the experience. I saw that as a challenge and took it on to prove him wrong – I am delighted we did so.”

Star Pubs & Bars business development manager, Carl French, was full of praise, saying: “Olga and Keith have done a great job running the Dr Syntax over the last 21 years – they have created a real hub of the community.

"I wish them many happy years ahead, enjoying their well-earned retirement.”