Pint-sized pensioner Lyn opens The Inn Collection Group’s debut Sunderland seafront inn that kept her going through lockdown
The 92-year-old pensioner who says watching the build of Sunderland’s newest inn helped get her through the loneliness of lockdown was today its guest of honour.
Flanked by a pair of giant seagulls, Lyn pulled not only the first pint of The Seaburn Inn but the first she has ever poured, as she officially opened the 40-bedroom inn on Sunderland seafront.
Widow Lyn Overend became fascinated by the building of the inn, which stands alongside the new STACK development on Sunderland seafront. Every day during lockdown Lyn, who lives alone after losing her husband Stan of 70 years, three years ago, would go to her window to check on her ‘orange and limes’ – a reference to the Hi-Viz wearing construction workers and to see how construction of the four-storey inn was taking shape.
She was so absorbed in the build of the inn, that friend and Covid volunteer Diane Porter booked Lyn in for the ultimate staycation at The Seaburn Inn as a surprise.
But when inn owners, award-winning northern pub company The Inn Collection Group heard Lyn’s story and how watching the build had been a lifeline for her during lockdown, they invited the pensioner as their guest of honour to officially open their debut Wearside inn.
Standing at just 4’8 and in her own words, ‘pint-sized’, Lyn brought her own stool to reach the pumps, to pull her first pint, helped by The Seaburn Inn’s general manager Richard Miller, before being given a tour of the building including the balcony sea view room she will stay in.
Lyn said: “I have been honoured, really honoured. I am over the moon to be here today and to open The Seaburn Inn. I feel like a celebrity with all the fuss I have had.”
Lyn, who used to watch the build from her ‘nosey parker’ window, said: “It’s beautifully done. It’s magical. To think I’m standing here on the very spot I watched out of my window for all that time is magical. It’s been done so well.”
She added: “The lockdown was very lonely for me. Without this, I would have been watching the four walls. The inn has become part of my life. I’ve watched it all happening. I saw the first lift going up, the first windows being opened, now this. It is wonderful.”
General Manager Richard Miller said: “Lyn is absolutely amazing and a real inspiration. We were all so moved by her story and how watching the inn being built had helped get her through the loneliness of lockdown. We got in touch right-away to ask if she would be our VIP guest and open the inn for us.
“It’s been an incredible day, seeing the doors open to our first Sunderland inn – and Lyn has made a monumental day even more special. She’s put a smile on everyone’s faces and we’re all looking forward to her coming to stay as our guest and being a regular. She’s already asked about applying for a job – she’s brilliant!”
The Seaburn Inn is multi-award-winning The Inn Collection Group’s first Wearside inn. Built by Metnor Construction, it features sea view rooms complete with balconies overlooking Seaburn and Roker beaches, an outdoor terrace, dining areas and a playpark for customers’ children. Family and dog friendly, it is open daily from 7.30am until 9pm for food, drinks and has 40 bedrooms across three storeys.
The Inn Collection Group, which is backed by Alchemy and supported with banking via OakNorth, has 22 sites in Northumberland, the Lake District, County Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Its pubs-with-rooms brand includes all day, daily food service and affordable accommodation.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It’s wonderful to hear how Lyn has watched as The Seaburn Inn has risen from the ground, as one exciting part of our transforming coastal landscape.
“With every new development – driven forward by a council that is focused on establishing Sunderland as a dynamic place to live, work and play – we are creating a more vibrant seaside, with exciting places for residents and visitors to enjoy – all while creating opportunities for businesses to succeed.
“The Seaburn Inn is a tremendous asset and a vote of confidence from an award-winning operator in Sunderland’s seaside. I am sure Seaburn will prove to be a great addition to The Inn Collection Group’s impressive portfolio of inns.”
As well as accommodation developments, Sunderland seaside is set to see more leisure venues take shape, with an £820,000 investment to regenerate under-used and historic buildings along the Seaburn and Roker promenade. Plans will see a former toilet block at Roker, along with the former Bay Shelter and the old tram shelter at Seaburn, transformed into cafés and restaurants, and plans are also in place for 12 beach huts.
The investment is part of a vision to establish Sunderland as a healthy, vibrant, dynamic smart city that attracts people to live, work and play.