Pub landlords have said a “sad” goodbye after three decades running boozers.

Sue and Lee Colbert from The Royal Oak, in Watford Heath, will be holding a leaving do on Saturday (February 24) before handing over the keys in March.

They first took over in 2018 and have been a fixture of the community ever since, after managing bars in London and South Africa beforehand.

Watford Observer: Duff at The Royal Oak.Duff at The Royal Oak. (Image: The Royal Oak)

“While it's bittersweet to say goodbye, we feel incredibly grateful to have met so many amazing people and fantastic customers,” Sue, 56, and Lee, 54, said.

“It's very nice here, a lovely little spot on this heath.”

Watford Observer: The Royal Oak garden.The Royal Oak garden. (Image: The Royal Oak)

Sue added: “Rest assured, we've handpicked the new landlords with great care to ensure the pub's ongoing success and to continue providing the best experience for our valued customers.”

The landlords told the Watford Observer they are are “proud” to leave The Royal Oak “a very busy pub” after improving its reputation in the area, having heard “bad reports” before they took over.

It is now a hub for activities and events including pub quizzes, craft markets, singles nights, vinyl nights, fundraisers, and live music.

This is set to continue under the incoming operators, who are currently getting tips and training from Sue and Lee.

The couple also explained why they have ultimately made the decision to leave.

Watford Observer: The Royal Oak.The Royal Oak. (Image: The Royal Oak)

Sue said: “We are sad to say goodbye to all the people we have got to know, but we’ve decided on this because we are getting to an age now where we want a five-day-week job rather than seven-days-a-week.”

They described how much they enjoyed running a pub in the community but also how it takes “more hours than you care to think about”.

Asked what is next for the pair, Sue admitted “we’ve got absolutely no idea what we’re going to do”.

Watford Observer: Live music at The Royal Oak.Live music at The Royal Oak. (Image: The Royal Oak)

“We will find a new adventure, a new home and go into our 60s with no responsibilities."

Customers responded to the announcement with sadness as well as their best wishes. Some were shocked by the announcements while those that already knew added that they were looking forward to “a night to remember” on Saturday.