AN EDEN husband and wife who fought back from serious illness are now striving to save their pub.

Clive and Amie Bissland have decided "with heavy hearts" to stop serving food at the Midland Hotel, Appleby.

Amie told the Gazette that after a couple of years dealing with health issues, the time had come to make the business easier to manage by concentrating purely on the pub and its five guest bedrooms.

They say they are "passionate" about keeping the Midland going as "a real pub" where locals can gather, drink and chat, and take part in quiz nights - an approach supported by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, whose Westmorland branch voted the Midland pub of the year in 2013 and 2014.

The Bisslands have posted heartfelt thanks to their customers and hard-working kitchen staff on Facebook - and they are now looking forward to their annual three-day beer festival, starting tomorrow (Friday, September 14).

"We were almost singlehandedly running the restaurant, functions, pub and servicing the rooms," said Amie, a former office manager.

"We had three fantastic part-time staff, who have since found new jobs, but it was becoming too much and to keep the business viable we had to address the strengths of the Midland and what it meant to the local community. To us that is running the pub as a real pub."

Amie and Clive, a painter and decorator by trade, bought the Victorian pub in October 2010 after it had been closed for two years. They carried out a full renovation and created five en-suite rooms.

However, after five years of successful trading, tragedy struck when Clive was diagnosed with cancer, and two years later Amie was also diagnosed. Both had to undergo surgery and months of treatment to return to full health, and they praised their staff for going "above and beyond" the call of duty while they were ill.

Although the Midland restaurant has closed, the venue will still be available for functions and special occasions, with full catering.

For more on the beer festival, see