Alan and Anne did not expect their 40 year treat to carry on after illness left them at Tyspane Care Home, but the Commmodore had other ideas...

The ship Alan Pitcher served on while at Instow in 1949, when he met Anne. The ship Alan Pitcher served on while at Instow in 1949, when he met Anne.

A Mortehoe couple who have shared an anniversary cream tea at Instow’s Commodore Hotel for the past 40 years were delighted when against all hope the tradition unexpectedly continued.

Alan and Anne Pitcher were staying at Tyspane Care Home in Braunton for respite care after Anne suffered a stroke and regretted not being able to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary in the usual way.

Tyspane staff overheard and contacted Commodore owner Gary Woolaway, went immediately to the hotel kitchen, laid up a full cream tea with all the trimmings and took it straight to Tyspane.

The tradition remained unbroken as he personally served their anniversary tea in their room, complete with flowers from Tyspane staff.

Alan and Anne are now in their early 80s, but first met in 1949, when Alan, serving as a lieutenant in The Royal Navy, was based at Instow working on tank landing craft.

One evening he went with his commanding officers to The New Inn, Bideford, and there met Anne, who was working in the pub. Alan invited her for a meal on board the ship and romance blossomed, followed by marriage a few years later.

They have stayed regularly at the Commodore, and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary there.

Unfortunately, Anne had a severe stroke this year, and very sadly, they had to cancel their holiday, and instead booked a week at Tyspane, resigned to missing their anniversary tea.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Alan, “Gary turned up out of the blue, and served us right there with everything we wanted, it was magical.”

Anne added: “I’m delighted, you don’t expect that sort of service these days.”

Andy Kirby, general manager at Tyspane said: “It’s always those special little details which make the difference, and we are really grateful to Gary for helping us make their day really special.”