A popular pub manager who "would always go out of his way to help people" has died aged 53.
Darren Bispham, general manager of Singleton Barn in Ashford, passed away on Friday following a battle with cancer.
He had run the Shepherd Neame-owned pub in Hoxton Close for 13 years and was known for his friendly and caring personality and focus on helping the community.
Married to Ursula for 27 years, he had been passionate about the pub and its team, continuing to enjoy working until a few weeks before his death.
“He would always go out of his way to help people,” his wife said.
“He was passionate and caring, and he loved his job. He wanted to make sure people were happy at work. He had a big heart, a good heart.
“The main thing for him was to bring the community together. The Singleton Barn is a community pub and that was the most important thing for him.”
The couple met while working in South Africa. Darren was working as an executive chef and Ursula as a catering manager.
The pair moved to Lancashire to be near Darren’s parents, where he managed a number of pubs for Greene King.
Later moving to Kent, he worked for the Spirit pub company running The Chimneys (now the Old Rectory pub) in Leybourne for six years, before starting at the Singleton Barn in 2010.
“When we got here he worked so hard,” Ursula added.
“Even during his chemotherapy he still enjoyed working. Going to work and being amongst other people, and making sure the staff were fine was what he wanted to do; it kept him going. He was a dedicated father, husband and businessman.”
Shepherd Neame’s Jonathon Swaine, manager director for pubs, said everyone at the Faversham brewery is deeply saddened by Darren’s death.
“He worked for the company for 13 years, putting his heart and soul into his pub, the Singleton Barn,” he said.
“He will be deeply missed and we look forward to seeing many of his regulars and the community celebrate his life with his family on June 25.”
A tradition to host the local primary school’s year six leavers’ party, which Darren begun when his son Nathan was in year six, continues to this day.
“He said to me ‘If I go, just keep it simple’...”
And every August Bank Holiday, the pub chooses a local charity to benefit from a fundraising day with a hog roast.
Darren had two children with Ursula; 21-year-old Nathan, and 17-year-old Clarissa.
The family will be remembering Darren at a celebration of life at the Singleton Barn on Sunday, June 25 from 2pm.
Ursula said it had been his wish to do something for everyone but “keep it simple”.
“We wanted as many people as possible to come, so we wanted it on a weekend. This is what Darren wanted,” she said.
“He said to me ‘If I go, just keep it simple’. He was very much a ‘get it sorted’ person.”
Everyone is welcome to join the family in remembering him and there will be a DJ playing the music he had enjoyed with 80s tunes, reggae, blues and jazz.