Running a pub is always tough … but it’s even harder if you’ve gone almost blind.
That’s what’s happened to Kate Ward who has brought music and life back to The Railway Inn next to the train station in Marsden.
She wants to do more for the community and bring more young people in through the doors of the age-old tavern which dates back to 1794.
Kate, a former comedian who has been a singer with blues soul band Velvet Hammer for 20 years, has been staging live blues music at the pub every Sunday and recently hosted a blues weekend with some big names from the genre.
But the 58-year-old revealed times are tough as bands have to be paid for, yet entry to watch them is free with only the money going over the bar paying for the cost of the music and running the pub. Read more about the blues nights HERE.
Kate first saw the pub last December after a night out in Marsden and spotted a sign that it needed new management.
It got her thinking, she inquired with pub owners Admiral Taverns and became its landlady on February 1.
She quickly brought back music to the pub that used to be renowned for its live music and Kate gives everyone who walks through the pub’s doors a warm welcome.
But her health problems started on May 21 when she suffered a detached retina in her right eye. As soon as that was fixed she then had a detached retina in her left eye which has now detached three times and scar tissue caused by operations on both eyes have caused her even further sight problems.
“I’m virtually blind,” she said. “I can’t even see my face in the mirror.”
She now faces three further operations to remove the scar tissue – the first on October 9 and then two more six weeks apart.
Kate’s had to rely on five part-time staff to keep the pub going for her but she says the financial pressure is immense.
“It’s not really viable and I’ve just had to sell my car to pay off debts,” she said. “I should be shut really but I refuse to lie down and will find a way to keep going.
“There’s a pub here that’s perfect for live music – the atmosphere is rocking when the music gets going. I want new and up and coming musicians to play here, to get the taste and experience for live gigs to an appreciative, music-loving crowd.”
The Railway now hosts open mic nights from 8pm on Thursdays to give musicians that chance.
“It’s all about young people and their futures,” said Kate. “Giving them the chance and to attract more young people into the pub so they have that sense of belonging with a real community spirit. Life is incredibly tough at the moment for just about everyone.
“Music is so uplifting for people’s lives but I need to survive as a pub so we need more people through the door to appreciate the music that’s being put on here. I’m here to nurture people with their music and we even have a small recording studio upstairs at the pub.”
Kate is a former teacher specialising in helping children excluded from mainstream school due to their extreme behaviour.
She will continue to explore ways to bring in more funding for the pub.
“Ideally, I need a philanthropist keen to support local music,” she said.
The Railway is open Wednesday to Sunday from 12 noon until late.
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.