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Tribute to popular publican Andy Devine who ran the Ship Tavern, Lower Upnor

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A family have paid a touching tribute to a popular publican who died suddenly at the age of 68.

Andy Devine ran The Ship Tavern in Lower Upnor for five years and was born and bred in nearby Hoo.

Popular publican Andy Devine
Popular publican Andy Devine

In his earlier years he was a DJ working nightclubs across the country and had a residency at Catch 22 in Gillingham, later to be re-named Joannas and The Zone.

He had a passion for music and had an extensive record collection.

Andy loved telling tales of how he toured with Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Wombles and was friends with music producer Pete Waterman.

It was while he was on the entertainment circuit he met his first wife Dee with whom he had a daughter Emma in May 1978 and twins James and Andy in July 1980.

He also became stepfather to Michelle. He separated from Dee but continued to play a big part in his children's lives.

The Ship, Upnor Road, Lower Upnor
The Ship, Upnor Road, Lower Upnor

He met his second wife Nicola, a hairdresser in Hoo, and they had two daughters Louisa and Lydia.

He was in his element behind the bar at the riverside pub, combining his love of chatting to people and cooking.

He boasted about his Sunday roasts and in particular his roast potatoes.

For much of his life he was a painter and decorator running his own business.

His son "little Andy" followed in his father's footsteps while James rose through the ranks of the NHS to be appointed chief executive of Medway NHS Trust Foundation. He now works for international accountancy firm, KPMG.

Andy Devine in his DJ days
Andy Devine in his DJ days

Older sister is a mental health nurse and two younger sisters work in HR and customer service.

A tribute from his family reads: "Above all, Andy was a family man. From supporting his parents, Joan and Wally, from a young age, to having a family of his own, family meant everything to him.

"He was immensely proud of his children, as his vast collection of family photos and keepsakes show.

"For some of his family it was a surprise he had bought a pub, but he told them you just need to watch the beautiful sun set and rise from the pub and then we would understand why – and he said if could watch that one more time, he would leave this world in a happy place."

Andy's funeral was on Monday at Medway Crematorium, Blue Bell Hill.

The wake was at Hoo Village Institute with donations made to Help 4 Heroes, a charity close to his heart.

The Ship is now on the market with the family saying it will only be sold as a pub.

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