Anne Dickie retires after half a century behind Glasgow bars

Anne and Lesley at The Woodend

MARKING her retirement after more than 20 years’ service at the helm of The Woodend Bar in Glasgow’s Mount Vernon, Anne Dickie has looked back on a near 50-year career of customer service.

Earlier this month Anne received a valedictory award from the The Woodend building’s owners, Star Pubs & Bars, in recognition of how she has put ‘her heart and soul’ into transforming the previously failing pub into a thriving neighbourhood institution.

And the family’s commitment to The Woodend is far from over – it was confirmed that Anne is passing the reins to her daughter Lesley Weaver, who has already clocked up 22 years at the pub and says she ‘can’t ever imagine leaving’.

Anne was East End born-and-bred, and began work in silver service catering at the age of 15. She started off in pubs in 1976, firstly at Ocean’s Eleven on Sauchiehall Street before going on to manage pubs like The Phoenix on Stepps Road, the International Bar on Aikenhead Road, the Queen’s Park Bar on Dixon Avenue and the Argosy on Paisley Road West.

She recalled: “Pubs were very different back then. A pint was 56p, food was typically packet soup or a bridie and beans, and a lot of pubs were only for adults.”

Anne took the lease of The Woodend Bar in 2001 when it was ‘tired and had lost its way’: “I could see its potential and worked every day until midnight for the first year to turn it round. Customers used to say I should put my bed in the bar!”

Anne has since toiled tirelessly to maintain The Woodend Bar as a thriving pub for the neighbourhood, redecorating numerous times, adding a dining area and a new function room, and extending the garden.

The pub is now a well-established meeting place for the local community, hosting a weekly quiz, sports screenings and entertainment nights, and multiple generations of some Mount Vernon families are regulars.

It also attracts customers from the wider area seeking out its excellent pub food – Anne’s famous lentil soup and steak pie, both made to secret recipes, are particular favourites – or attending celebrations in the function room.

The Woodend is also dog-friendly, accommodating four-legged patrons with a choice of treats or sliced cooked chicken served with bowls of water.

“I feel very lucky to have done a job I love for so long,” said Anne. “People come in to the pub as strangers and leave as friends, whilst our regulars are like family. There has been constant fun and laughter along the way, as well as a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

“Pubs have been through some tough times but, thanks to a loyal team of staff and fantastic regulars, we’ve got through. It’s a dream come true to be passing the pub onto Lesley – she’s passionate about The Woodend, and it’ll be in safe hands.”

Star Pubs & Bars’ operations director for Scotland, Matt Dyson, said: “It’s a great honour to present this award. Anne has put her heart and soul into The Woodend Bar, and it’s a fantastic local with the warmest of welcomes.

“Numerous trends and bars have come and gone over the past two decades, but The Woodend and its exceptional hospitality have stood the test of time. Lesley has learned from the best and always goes above and beyond for customers. It’s great news for the community that The Woodend is staying in the family.”

Lesley has made it clear that she will not be resting on her family’s laurels. Upcoming plans include fundraisers for local good causes, including a defibrillator outside the pub that is easily accessible to local residents. She said: “I get a buzz from running The Woodend Bar every day; I can’t think of any other job that would give me so much satisfaction.”