Former publican known for her kindness

Date: Monday 15th April 2019

TRIBUTES have been paid to former publican Mary Metcalfe, who has died at the age of 102.

Her funeral was held at St Lawrence’s Church, Crosby Ravensworth, where she ran the Sun Hotel until she retired in 1989 — the third generation of her family to run the pub.

She was born during the First World War to parents Thompson and Libby Park nee Hunter and had three brothers — Robert, Andrew and Reg. She attended the village primary school and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, then Newton Rigg College.

She married Arthur Metcalfe at St Lawrence’s, which was opposite the pub, and the couple had four children — David, Joan, Dianne and the late Harold.

The family played a big part in village life and were well-known for having one of the first telephones in Crosby Ravensworth. Mary and the children would often take messages for neighbours although delivering to the vicarage proved particularly challenging as the geese there liked to chase visitors.

The pub was busiest on the night of Crosby show, when people had to stand up the stairs and there was no room in the bar. The Shepherds’ Meet was another big night but on one occasion Mary was left particularly annoyed when someone decided it would be a good idea to bring the sheep inside the pub.

However, she did allow other animals in the house and she once carried two orphaned kittens in her overall pockets until they were old enough to be weaned. She was known for her kindness and hospitality — during the Second World War she looked after Elizabeth Spaving who was evacuated to the area from Leamington Spa, together with her mother, and they were made to feel very welcome.

They were forever grateful for the care they received and remained regular visitors to Crosby Ravensworth for many years afterwards.

The family was probably the first in Crosby Ravensworth to own a car and Mary, who was the first lady driver in the village, used to do taxi runs collecting passengers from Appleby and Shap railway stations during the 1960s.

Mary was widowed in her fifties, after Arthur lost his battle with cancer in 1975, but continued to run the pub with the help of her family until she retired.

In retirement she continued to live independently in the village and was well visited — particularly on Saturdays when people would buy their copies of the Herald from her. She enjoyed taking coach trips, sometimes travelling as far as Ireland and France, and in her later years she became a regular visitor to the Age Concern Day Centre in Shap.

Mary also remained committed to finding secondhand bargains in charity shops as she had done for many years at furniture sales and auctions in Penrith. One of her “bargains” forms part of her legacy, a secondhand silver cup with a bee motif, which was donated to Penrith Beekeepers Association.

In recent years as her health deteriorated Mary was cared for by staff at Edenside Care Home in both Appleby and Penrith.

Joan Raine, who is an Eden councillor representing the Crosby Ravensworth ward, paid tribute to her mother and said she had been overwhelmed by the number of cards of condolence and messages which had been received since Mary’s death.

Mary died peacefully at Edenside in Penrith and, as well as her surviving children, she leaves nine grandchildren — Claire Soulsby, Angela Brown, James, Ian and Marie Raine, Robert and Darren Metcalfe, Elizabeth and Louise Raper, and three great-grandchildren — Jack Soulsby, and Thomas and Sophie Brown.