Gary Shepherd is leeds born and bred. He worked in engineering in the city before fate led him to a new career as a pub landlord. Chris Berry reports.
Gary Shepherd has been the landlord of the CAMRA award-winning New Inn in Barwick-in-Elmet for nearly eight years.
He was born in Bramley and played rugby for Bramley Rugby Union Club. Having served his time as an engineer with Clyde Booth Engineering in Rodley, he worked for a number of engineering companies in Leeds and Bradford before getting into the pub game, as he describes, it purely by accident.
He married a landlord’s daughter and when the landlord was ill Gary found himself taking charge of the pub, The Oldfield.
He and Annette have now run the New Inn successfully since 2005. They have five children between them.
The couple moved there after trying to taking over a free house in Bramley.
They had been impressed with the New Inn and when the other pub didn’t work out they found it was still available and decided to give it a go.
Gary and Annette both believe that their decision was the right one and say they have have enjoyed a wonderful time in what they believe is a lovely village, but they are due to leave Barwick-in-Elmet in January.
One of their main additions to the New Inn has been their weekly live music on Sunday evenings. They are proud to have been a pub where melodic bands and solo artists have cut their teeth before going on to bigger things.
“The best thing about Leeds for me is that it simply is a great city. It has great nightlife and is full of great people. I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else - apart from Mauritius where I would love to retire.
My first job was as an apprentice engineer. Academically I wasn’t the brightest button in the box but I was good with my hands and decided to get a trade. I came straight out of Intake School to Clyde Booth of Rodley, which was famous for its crane manufacture. Thomas Smith’s next door was more famous but Clyde Booth eventually took it over. I spent many happy years there with a great set of lads.
The best piece of advice was from my father, Brian, about buying a house. It was the mortgage he advised me on. He told me to afford what I could afford in order to be able to still go out and enjoy life, otherwise he warned that we (my wife and I) would spend seven days a week looking at each other and he just told me that would not work.
“My guilty pleasure has been being here for the past eight years. It’s like living in your own sweet shop. It’s too easy to have a drink. I do like my John Smith’s. I don’t do the top shelf stuff and never have done. I just enjoy quality ale.
“My pet hate is moaning people who just seem to moan for no reason whatsoever. They are the type of people who talk about it being too cold or too warm. If they didn’t moan they would be mute. I had one time when someone moaned about their salad because it wasn’t served on a warm plate! How pathetic is that?
The one thing I couldn’t live without is laughter. We get a lot of that in here. Customers tell you the strangest and quirkiest of tales.
If I could meet anyone I would have liked to have met John Wayne. I love his films and I love my Westerns. My father loved them too and he had a slight resemblance to him.
My philosophy on life is enjoy it. Life’s too short and you only get one chance at it. I’ve known a number of lads who have passed away now, lads that I played rugby with. They didn’t drink much or smoke themselves to death but they are gone already before their time. So my advice is just enjoy what you have and what you can do whilst you can.
“A joke? Mine are filthy so no chance. It’s a shame one of the regulars Bob MacKenzie isn’t in whilst you’re asking me this. We call him ‘Joke-a-Day Bob’.
What might surprise people is that Annette and I have five grandchildren and yet we are still so young! They are all boys aged between 3-8 years old. Because we spend so much time here one of our regrets has been that we have not really had the time to spend with them so I’m looking forward to doing more of that from January.
“My childhood days were very good and happy. Both of my parents worked. My mother worked part-time. I had an older brother and younger sister. We lived in Park Rise in Bramley, a nice little cul-de-sac where everybody knew each other. I remember street parties, bonfires and all the mams getting together on a Monday meeting in different houses each week. I played football for Holbeck Boys Club. We had a great football team at school in Broad Lane where there was a teacher called Dennis Epps, an excellent bloke. I had trials for Leeds City Boys but turned to rugby because my brother played. Graham Eccles of Leeds RL asked me to go to his club in Pudsey, but I enjoyed the social side of rugby union that I played until my mid-30s and watch them even now. I started on the wing but like many of us I ended up in the forwards.
“My first crush was Tetleys! My first real crush on a girl though was Deborah Thompson. I took her to Bramley Fall Woods so that she could ride her horse.”