Burnley ‘Irish’ pub boss and dad-of-five dies

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A FORMER landlord who ran a bustling “Irish” pub in Burnley has died aged 65.

Roy Grace was once the popular publican at the Forresters Arms in Todmorden Road and later the White Hart in Church Street alongside his wife Philomena (70).

The couple had just celebrated her 70th birthday and were weeks away from their ruby wedding anniversary after 40 years of marriage together.

But Roy suffered a massive stroke and died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital on February 23rd.

Tributes have flooded in for the “gentle giant” father-of-five who had a heart of gold.

Philomena said: “People loved him. So many people think the world of him. Roy was a gentle man who would do anything for anyone.

“He was fairly quiet and a bit shy. But when he had a drink he would come out of his shell. But he was never rowdy, he was sociable.”

Roy, who was born and bred in Burnley, attended Barden School before going on to work as a fireman on steam trains in Burnley.

He later worked night shifts at Bellings and would drive taxis during the day before going on to run the cab firm “Double Top.”

But it was the pub trade that many people in Burnley will remember Roy who took over the Forresters in 1991.

In the nine years he was landlord it became known as the town’s dedicated “Irish pub” and also had several pool and darts teams

Philomena said: “When we took it over the pub was doing nothing. But we built it up. It was packed to the rafters every night.

“Because we were getting so much trade the brewery knocked the pub through to the next house and extended it.

“It was the irish pub and it became the favourite haunt of everyone.”

Roy and Philomena later took over the White Hart for several years and again transformed it into a thriving pub.

“It takes someone special like him to make such an impact. We were a team. It was amazing. it would get packed. People came down for ‘the craic’ there.”

Away from pub life Roy was a real family man. He had a son Karl (39) and four step-children Peter (47) Sean (46) Maria (45) and David who died aged 42.

He would regularly take his grand-children on day trips to Blackpool and holidays to Wales.

But he suffered a stroke and sadly died in hospital on February 23rd.

His funeral was set to take place today (Monday) at St John the Baptist RC Church with a requiem mass.