Landlady is back at pub after daughter’s cancer nightmare

Jess Membry with sister and niece
Jess Membry with sister and niece

A landlady who gave up work to care for her sick teenage daughter has returned to her old pub and overseen a major refurbishment.

Beverly Membry took on the lease at The Windmill in Gossops Green around eight years ago but gave it up when 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with blood cancer non-hodgkins lymphoma.

Jessica, who also has cerebral palsy, was cared for by her mother full-time as she battled the disease and is now in remission.

Beverly said: “I couldn’t run a pub and look after my daughter and she came first. She’s always saying ‘thanks for being there for me’, and I’m always saying ‘I was there because you wanted me to be’.

“She’s a very brave young lady. It’s very hard for a young girl to lose her hair. She’s very strong-willed and has a real determination to live. There were stages when I wasn’t sure she would but she proved us all wrong. I don’t ever want to go through it again.”

Jessica, now 21, had to drop out of Crawley Central Sussex College after her diagnosis two years ago but is back studying health and social care and wants to go to university and train as a counsellor.

Beverly is now manager and licensee of The Windmill and is proud of the new lighting, floors, carpets, signs, doors and toilets.

She said: “It did have a bit of an image problem - a lot of these old pubs do. When they were built 20 cars passed by every day, now it’s more like 200. And the toilets were horrendous.

“The decor has made it a lot more appealing, it’s totally changed. Before it was a typical spit and sawdust pub, but now it’s cleaner, brighter, more modern.

“People still think it’s old fashioned but we get younger people in here now. It’s early days, but it’s picking up.”

She welcomed the recent budget announcement that the beer escalator tax - an annual three per cent above inflation rise on beer - had been cancelled.

Beverly said: “I’m behind it 100 per cent. All I’m ever asked is when will the prices go down, but normally we would have to put the prices up.”