After 16 years, David and Chris Laird are leaving the Murrumbateman Pub and Community Inn.

“If I was 10 or 15 years younger I would like to stay around.”

“I’m a bit old and cranky now,” David said with a chuckle.

When asked what the pub looked like when they arrived, David was succinct and honest in his assessment.

“Old.”

“It’s grown enormously since we’ve been here,” he said.

They believe their focus on community is the legacy they leave behind.

“We’re a family orientated pub; if you ask the local coppers, they love us,”

“We sponsor the footy over there; we bought all the equipment for the little athletics,” said David.

Chris’ response was very similar, noting their work fundraising during the Bookham fires and the Christmas tree ornaments that are added to every year as the best way of encapsulating this community focus.

“When the Bookham fire happened, we had a big masquerade ball and raised $23,000 for the firefighters to distribute to the local brigades around here.”

“Our Christmas tree, which gets put up every year, is decorated with named stars which are added as each pub baby is born and last Christmas there were about 100 stars on the tree,” she said.

The couple has three daughters, two of whom followed them to Murrumbateman.

“We have three daughters, but two daughters followed us over, and our son in-laws come from here, and they’ve both asked for our daughter’s hand here at the pub,” said David.

One of their daughter’s engagements was what Chris described as one of the highlights of her time at the pub as everyone else in the room knew what was about to happen (thanks to David).

“I remember our eldest daughter was on holidays with her partner in Fiji, and he was going to ask her to marry him, and David knew, and I wasn’t allowed to know.”

“I get the phone call at the bar, and I turn around, and I scream to the room ‘, I’m gonna be a mother-in-law!'”

“Everybody screamed back, ‘we know!'” she said.

The pair originally had decided to leave last year, but with Covid being what it was, and the business temporarily closed, they stayed around.

“We would’ve gone last year, but because of Covid and our daughter and son-in-law being the ones that will take over, we couldn’t hand it over, not knowing what was going to happen,” said David.

Their daughter Mel and son-in-law Mitch have some new ideas about how to run the venue, but have promised the look, which makes up much of the pub’s character, will remain mostly the same.

“They’ve got young heads, so I think they’ve got some new ideas.”

“We’ve inherited everything in here, and it’s all been donated by locals.”

“He’s not going to change anything about the look,” said Chris.

The couple’s final day will be on March 31. There will be farewell drinks at the pub on Saturday the 27th to celebrate their immeasurable contribution and impact on the Murrumbateman community.

Max O’Driscoll

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