Pub soulmates die 11 days apart

Alan and Helen Heyes at the Baltic Fleet
Alan and Helen Heyes at the Baltic Fleet

A Burnley couple who ran one of the town’s most popular pubs for two decades have died – just 11 days apart.

Alan and Ellen Heyes, who together ran the Baltic Fleet in Briercliffe Road for 22 years from circa 1974, had only just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last November.

The couple’s son, Ray, called the pair “soulmates” and said his dad just could not handle the thought of being without Ellen.

Mrs Heyes died at the age of 78 on February, 15th. Just two days earlier she had returned to the couple’s Hurstwood cottage after being discharged from Royal Blackburn Hospital to receive end of life care at home.

Ray said: “When my mum came back home my dad just couldn’t cope with it. He had a seizure at 2pm on the Saturday and was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital. My mum died at 10pm later the same day.

“I had to go over and tell him. He was so upset, he just wanted to be with her when she passed away. He died in the hospital 11 days later.”

The couple both worked at the Crooked Billet in Worsthorne and the Peel Arms, Gannow, before taking over the running of the Baltic Fleet.

In a tribute in the Burnley Express two weeks ago, Ray, who used to run the North Valley Hotel, Colne, and the Park View in Burnley, described his mum as a ”real people person”.

He said his dad, who also died at the age of 78, encouraged a reputation for being grumpy but that could not have been further from the truth.

“He liked people to think that, but he wasn’t. He liked giving off the impression he was tight with his money as well but he was one of the most generous people you could ever meet.

“They were both really well-liked. They were the centre of the Duke Bar community for so many years.”

The couple’s funeral was held at St John’s Church in Worsthorne. They also leave behind their son Graham and grandchildren.