Ralph's voice cracked with emotion as he thanked and paid tribute to Jo and Allan, not only for their hosting of the weekly quiz Lord C night, but also their dedication and service to the community over the last 13 years.
The evening marked the end of an era – the last quiz at the Lord Combermere (at least as far as anyone can tell in view of the apparent lack of successor landlords) and the end of Jo and Allan's tenure, which began in October 2009. Airline tickets, spending money, a specially-commissioned portrait of their dogs and other gifts reflected the appreciation and affection the quizzers and the village have for Jo and Allan, who have become an integral part of our community.
Saying that they were overwhelmed by the generosity, Allan expressed his and Jo's thanks for the gifts and gave recognition to the various groups and individuals who make the village the lively, friendly place it is.
There were other moments too – the bar staff received rounds of applause – not only for their quiz round (we learned that lime and soda was the most popular quiz night drink, Shropshire Gold and fish and chips the most asked-for beer and meal and that there are 87 pictures on the pub wall!) but also their work. Even the chefs made a rare appearance from the kitchen to take a bow. Britney came in for a special mention – there with her baby – having first asked for a job as a 15-year old when the Lord C was being refurbished even before Jo and Allan's time.
It seemed fitting that the quiz teams were called up one by one in a roll-call parade to partake of the fabulous buffet laid out on groaning tables.
The quiz would not have been complete without rounds by Dave of Nantwich, Marina Dave and Christine Johnson and Ralph's 20 years as quizmaster was recognised enthusiastically. To mark the occasion, Jo and Allan gave Ralph a Vettriano picture that he has long admired on the wall of the pub.
So it was that the night came to a close. And what next? Will the Lord C re-open its doors soon and play host to the quiz and many other village events and groups? Will the next landlords be able to provide the village with the welcoming, well-run and community-minded pub we have come to appreciate? Time will tell. But as newly-appointed Freemen of the Village with the right to drive their cattle, sheep and other animals unhindered through the village, we hope to see Jo and Allan back in the village in the months and years to come, whilst wishing them every success for the future.