A familiar face who worked at the White Swan, Bridge Gate, Hebden Bridge, for a quarter of a century, and with an unforgettable sense of humour, friends have paid tribute to Jessie Yates, who has passed away at the age of 68.
Born Jessie Veronica Wilson at Wood Street Hebden Bridge, on May 25, 1946, for almost 25 years she was part of landlady Liz Wood’s team at the White Swan, in the centre of town.
Liz said: “Jessie was like a sister I never had. She was well known around Hebden bridge and Sowerby Bridge for all the right reasons - a wicked sense of humour and a welcoming face when you walked into the White Swan.
Jessie went to Central Street School, continued her senior education elsewhere in the valley and met and married her first husband Allan, with whom she had her first son, Darren, although the couple later separated.
In the mid 1980s she met her second husband Barry when they were working at Crossley Yarns in Sowerby Bridge, and they moved back to Hebden Bridge, living in Crown Street, marrying in August, 1986.
Barry had two sons, Mark and Craig, and they added to the family when their son Jason was born.
Barry died in 1987, and with Jessie sole provider for her four boys, she started work at the White Swan.
In more recent years, in 2002 she met and became engaged to partner Colin Wood and the couple enjoyed their time together, with a store of tales testament to Jessie’s sense of humour, some from White Swan trips which she throughly enjoyed.
Her ability to see the funny side of life soon shone through even if new customers couldn’t always see it instantly.
“She was brilliant with the young people over the years - and loved Bon Jovi!
“When you first came in the pub you would have thought she was miserable but you soon found out otherwise. She had a fantastic sense of humour,” said Liz.
On one occasion on a social night out Colin and Jessie had gone into a Bradford pub only to discover it was a pole-dancing club when they got inside. Friends at the White Swan digested the story, stored it away and when the occasion arose on a regulars’ outing to Chester produced a curtain pole, surplus to the hotel’s requirements, and presented it to her on the coach, Jessie appreciating the joke!
Her funeral service was held at St James’s Church, Hebden Bridge, and as well as being mum to sons Darren, Mark, Craig and Jason, she was much-loved grandma of James, Danny Victoria, Jase, Callum, Andrew and Courtney, nana to Ryan and great-grandma to Riley.
Liz said Jessie would be sadly missed although something of her spirit is still be there at the White Swan.
The Saturday after Jessie passed away (she never actually retired but while away with heart problems from which she later died stayed with Jason and his partner Hannah at their Fairfield home) Liz had to allocate another staff member to do the job which was jessie’s pride and joy - cleaning the glasswork behind the bar, a task for which she had her own cleaning cloths as she insisted Liz’s regular ones weren’t big enough.
“There were three of us there and all of a sudden there was like an explosion with some bits of a shattered glass on the foor but nothing dangerous and just the one broken glass among the others,” she said.