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Annette Hamill, popular landlady at the Coopers Arms in Rochester, has died


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One of Medway’s best known pub landladies has died after a short illness. Annette Hamill, 72, became an institution in Rochester when she ran the Coopers Arms with her late husband Mike for 25 years.

Mrs Hamill met Mike, a sergeant major in the Army, when he was posted near her home in Stoke-on-Trent in the in the early 1980s.

When he retired from the service they came to Medway to take over the popular pub, in St Margaret’s Street, which is one of the oldest in Kent.

Annette Hamill
Annette Hamill

Mrs Hamill trained as a nurse and worked in a hospital in the Midlands but was at her happiest behind the bar serving pints and chatting to her customers.

Steph Stephenson, 48, Annette’s son said, “She was a traditional landlady. She loved socialising and had many friends. “She was a very caring person and always willing to help others. If somebody did not have anywhere to go for Christmas dinner there was always a place at her home.”

The couple left the pub in 2007 and after moving to a cottage a few doors away, they became regulars, keeping in touch with their many friends. Mrs Hamill took great pride in her award-winning pub garden and she still took an interest in her eye-catching hanging baskets in her retirement.

She played an active part in the women’s branch of the LVA, known as the Medway Towns, Gillingham and District Women’s Auxilliary League of the Licensed Trade. The group of landladies remained good friends since it wound up five years ago. In its heyday it raised more than £20,000 for a wide range of mainly local charities.

Wendy Robinson, Karen Weobley, Pauline Marriott, Liz Shiers, Annette Hamill, Felicity Kissack and Helen Dodson at a meeting of the Medway Ladies Licensed Victuallers Association in Upchurch
Wendy Robinson, Karen Weobley, Pauline Marriott, Liz Shiers, Annette Hamill, Felicity Kissack and Helen Dodson at a meeting of the Medway Ladies Licensed Victuallers Association in Upchurch

At their final meeting, she said: “It might be all glammed up behind the bar. But it is more or less a 24-hour job. You are never off duty. What the customer doesn’t see is the landlady in a pinny at 7 in the morning prepping up the food.”

John Brice, chairman of Medway LVA, said the couple played a major role in the association and raised huge amount of money for charity. He said: “They were larger than life characters and a big part of the pub community.

“They were old fashioned publicans who you don’t see that often now.” Mrs Hamill died at the Wisdom Hospice in Rochester on Sunday after being diagnosed with cancer in the summer.

Mr Stephenson, a sub-contractor, who lives in Rochester, said: “She was there for about a month but right until the end she was chatting to staff and had a sparkle in her eye.”

Her funeral takes place at St Margaret’s Church in St Margaret’s Street, Rochester, at noon on Monday, February 6, followed by interment at Medway Crematorium, Robin Hood Lane, Blue Bell Hill at 1pm. A wake will be held at the Coopers Arms. All are welcome.

Her family requests no flowers but donations to the Wisdom Hospice via W Naylar and Son, Delce Road, Rochester.

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