A well known and much loved former Heathfield landlady has died at the age of 83.
Iris Lefort and her husband Con ran The Crown Inn at the top of the High Street for 16 years. In later years the couple were joined by their son Paul to run The Star Inn in Waldron.
Iris was born in Wanstead, East London and the family moved to Leytonstone. She and Con - two years older - were childhood sweethearts - they were engaged when she was 15 and married when she was 20.
After starting work Con was called up for National Service with the RAF and was moved to Hong Kong. When he was demobbed he started work as a rep for the Danish Bacon Company.
The family comes from a long line of publicans and landlords. Iris’s parents and grandparents held three public houses in London. An aunt ran a pub in Heybridge Basin, Maldon in Essex.
It was a natural move for them to look for a licensed house of their own and the first suitable one that came up was The Crown which they ran from 1966 until 1982. They soon adapted to country life and became respected and popular hosts, winning and keeping friendships across the County.
Their son, Paul is an only child and when his parents relinquished The Crown, they took over The Star and ran it as a family. Paul said: “You can’t imagine how much my parents were loved. They knew everyone in Heathfield and Waldron and everyone knew them. Those were the days when lots of people enjoyed a busy social life at their local and Con and Iris were perfect hosts.”
The couple used to live in Berain (now The Lighthouse) in Ghyll Road, Heathfield before moving to Nursery Way. They were devoted grandparents to Paul’s children, Amie, (29,) William (25) and George, (22.)
The childhood sweetheart theme continued when their son Paul, married Deborah in July 2012. They first met 40 years ago at at school in Heathfield, stayed together from the age of 17 to 21 then drifted apart. They married other people but finally tied the knot.
In a moving tribute to Iris, Parish Pump correspondent Valerie Chidson said: “For nearly as long as I have been in the village the Lefort family has been running the Star. It’s a marriage made in heaven. Iris’s cheerful face and smile will be so much missed. Whenever there was an event on Iris would be there, chatting to everyone. She was simply a village institution.”
The funeral will take place at All Saints’ Church on Monday, October 6 at 11am and afterwards at The Star.