The couple behind an award-winning country pub say they have mixed emotions as they prepare to leave it behind for a new challenge. 

Jamie and Clare Pimbley have spent the past five years putting their hearts and souls into The Half Moon Inn, Melplash. 

They poured their last pint on Sunday and will now move to the West Bay Hotel. 

Clare said: "We have had a wonderful five years in the village of Melplash. However, 2024 sees us begin a new challenge in a new location. But fear not, it’s just a short journey away at West Bay.

"It is with mixed emotions we leave The Half Moon, as it will be a wrench to pull our last pint and serve our last meal on Sunday, but you can be sure that we are very excited to open the doors at The West Bay Hotel."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Jamie and Clare Pimbley at The Half Moon InnHalf Moon Inn landlords Jamie and Clare Pimbley

The West Bay pub is close to the couple's hearts, with Jamie proposing to Clare on the beach in front of the premises in the summer of 2000. Their first celebratory drink as a newly-engaged couple was in The West Bay Hotel.

"Now, 24 years later and after having three fantastic sons - Ben, William and Richard – we feel that this move is the perfect one for our family," said Clare. "Our next chapter."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The West Bay Hotel will open some time in February  Picture: Jennie Mulcahey

During their time at The Half Moon, Clare and Jamie have built up a great reputation for food, particularly their Sunday roasts, and scooped Pub of the Year at the Dorset Tourism Awards in 2020. 

Reflecting on their time at the pub, the couple say they are grateful for the support they received from customers during Covid.

"We do need to thank all of our customers for supporting our takeaway and deliveries," they said. 

"We also welcomed many musical acts which we thoroughly enjoyed and hope to work with in the future, as well as supporting Bridport Folk Festival with our fringe festivals which helped to raise funds for a number of local charities.

"We have been visited by Wylde Morris dancers, celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee and the Coronation of King Charles III to name but a few."

Clare and Jamie plan to open the doors of The West Bay Hotel in early February at a date to be confirmed. 

"There will be the same great team, the same warm welcome, the same excellent service and, of course, the food," they said. "You will not be disappointed as there will be some Half Moon favourites with a West Bay Hotel spin and some fresh new dishes. Our fantastic Sunday roasts will be available – so be sure to book to avoid disappointment."

The team are recruiting and anyone interested is invited to get in touch. 

Both The Half Moon Inn and West Bay Hotel are Palmers pubs. 

A spokesman for the company said: "We wish Jamie and Clare every success in their move to the West Bay Hotel and are excited by everything they have planned for this iconic coastal pub.

"We look forward to welcoming new licensees to the Half Moon in the future."