A family have visited all 1,000 Wetherspoon pubs in the UK after their autistic son held them to a “throwaway” comment they made a decade ago.
The Latchfords have spent 10 years touring Britain and Ireland and confessed that an Edinburgh pub was the favourite out of them all.
Their odyssey began with a throwaway promise that mum Sheila, 61, made to son Christy, then 17, which, due to his autism, he took literally and held them to.
The family visited Weatherspoons in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and mum Shelia said that The Caley Picture House, in Edinburgh, has been their favourite to visit.
They ticked off 900 in the first six years but were so prolific they have since had to wait for new ones to open.
The only existing bars they haven’t been to yet are the two beyond security at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 - which they plan to attend the next time they go on holiday.
Sheila, of Kidderminster, Worcs., said: “Our daughter Amy works at the Penny and Black Wetherspoon in Kidderminster and when she started Christy was not yet 18.
“We wanted to take him in to show her working behind the bar but in those days they had a really strict rule which meant anyone under 18 had to have a meal.
“We had just eaten so left. I said rather foolishly, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, ‘don’t worry, when you are 18 we will go to all of them.’ “When you say something like that to someone with autism it is taken seriously. The minute he turned 18 he was back in the Penny and Black in Kidderminster.
“We were never intending to do them all, but had promised him and he wouldn’t let us forget it.
“It didn’t occur to us it could be doable until I had to go to Scotland to work. They drove me up and we went to ones in Dundee and Edinburgh and it just went from there.”
The chain currently has around 900 pubs open across the UK but some of the ones the Latchford family have previously visited have since closed.
Sheila, husband Keith, 63, and Christy took six years to do the first 900 but in the last four years they have had to wait for new ones to open.
Sheila, a part-time civil servant, added: “It was a lot easier when there were loads to do, we could just fly up to Glasgow and walk around and come straight back.
“We would often book the night away, next week we are going to the new one in St Pancreas when it opens.
“We only target openings now and keep a close eye on the website and are part of the Wetherspoon appreciation society group on Facebook.
“The only ones we have not been to are the ones in Heathrow terminal 5 which are after security. We will have to do that when we plan our next holiday.
“But as far as we know we have done every other one in the UK and Southern Ireland.”
She said they did all the local area ones first around the Midlands which they could get to in a day and back before focusing on big cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and London whilst also enjoying some sightseeing.
They have been to every corner of the UK and to Ireland three times to do all the Wetherspoon pubs in both Northern and Southern Ireland.
The family reached the 1,000 milestone when they were first through the door at the opening of the Paladium Electric in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, last week.
“The latest one in Midsomer Norton was our 1,000th,” Sheila said. “They don’t serve Champagne anymore but we had a nice bottle of sparkling wine instead.
“It was a real landmark but unfortunately we were only there for a limited time but had a good look around.”
Sheila says their orders vary from coffees to pints and on around half the 1,000 occasions they have added either a breakfast or evening meal to their visit.
She added: “We really like them and always make a beeline for them even if they are ones we have been to before.
“The prices are very reasonable but we also love the surroundings. They refurbish a lot of old buildings and there are lots of converted churches, banks, theatres etc.
“Probably the old Caley picture house in Edinburgh is our favourite but there are so many really good ones.
“We also all really like the Cabot Court hotel in Weston-super-Mare which is right on the seafront.”
Keith, a full time carer for Christy, now 28, said: “Everyone tends to say that the historical buildings are the best, and that is true.
“There are some beautiful conversions of old premises and some of the newer pubs in particular are fantastic.
“It is a great hobby for us together and Christy loves it.”
Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin congratulated the family on their achievement.
He said: “This is a wonderful achievement by Sheila, Keith and Christy.
“They must have travelled tens of thousands of miles over the years to visit each Wetherspoon pub.
“We thoroughly appreciate their loyalty and commitment and trust they will continue to visit our pubs for many more years to come.”