A landscape gardener has landed on his feet despite slipping two discs in his back after being hired to restore a long-closed pub in Hawick High Street to its former glory.
Stephen Anderson is no stranger to the licensed trade, having run 13 Brew, a bar and cafe in Hawick’s Teviot Crescent until its closure earlier this year.
After it shut, he returned to his full-time job as a landscape gardener, but almost four months ago, he suffered two slipped discs and twisted his spine while carrying a fridge.
That accident put him out of action, but at the same time he received an offer to become bar manager at the old Queen’s Head pub at 32 High Street.
That proved to be perfect timing for Stephen, 35 on Christmas Day, so he has put his gardening job out to grass for good and is now focusing on getting the boozer up and running for May.
Surveys have been carried out on the building and its external stonework is to be restored.
Despite being closed for almost a decade, the pub retains a warm place in the hearts of many Teries, and Stephen has been inundated with messages of support on its Facebook page.
Luckily, the property has also stood the test of time and many of its original features, including its distinctive wooden bar, remain intact.
Stephen said: “I went back to my landscaping full time after 13 Brew and then, about 14 weeks ago, I slipped two discs and twisted my spine, so I hadn’t been doing much landscaping and then the new owners of the Queen’s Head, who are local businessmen, asked me if I wanted to open it up and run it for them.
“They want me to be the face of the pub, and they’d seen what I had done at 13 Brew and loved the place, and I am also quite well known in Hawick.
“The offer came out of the blue, but I think it will work out pretty well, and it’s a good challenge for me.
“We’re going to make a number of changes, but we’re going to keep it very traditional. It’s going to have real ales, craft ales, cocktails and wines.
“We are going to do food, but I have not decided what yet because the kitchen is pretty small.
“There will also be a large selection of gins and whiskies, and we’ll be putting on live music.”
The Queen’s Head is one of four High Street properties set to be renovated as part of a £1.3m initiative announced by Historic Environment Scotland earlier this year.
The others in line to be spruced up are the former Liberal club at No 80, the now-closed KT Crafts at No 24 and the building home to the Beauty Lounge at No 26.
Stephen, of Minto, added: “I think it was last a pub in about 2011. It was a popular bar, and I think we’ve already got over 1,000 likes on Facebook and we haven’t really done anything yet. Everyone seems keen to see it reopen.
“We have got restaurants all around us so I think we will get a lot of trade, from people before or after a meal.
“We’re keeping all the original features, including the bar. Upstairs is going to be a bit more modern, and we will probably use that for functions and music.”
“I’m now in the process of sorting out all the drinks and the suppliers, and the plan is to open in May.
“The landscaping work is on hold for ever, I think. My back has got to last me the rest of my life, so I have to start looking after myself.”