The owners of a much-loved Kilwinning pub say it will “break their hearts” to sell up.

Owners of the Victoria Bar in Howgate, Margaret Bradford and partner Andy Auld, announced last week they have put the popular boozer up for sale.

The couple are selling the pub after almost three decades behind the bar, but have decided to retire and spend more time with their family.

Margaret told the Times: “I have worked behind this bar for 30 years. I worked here as a barmaid before we eventually took it on to run 25 years ago. I was pregnant with my son, Drew, when I took it over and he’s 25 this year, so it’s all he’s ever known.

“It will break our hearts to part with it, but we need to think about ourselves too.

“We aren’t getting any younger and we need to take time to look after our health and spend some time with the kids and grandkids.”

The couple who are also parents to Martha and Natalie, suffered a heartbreaking loss when their life-long friend and fellow barmaid June Tudhope, passed away two years ago after a devastating battle with cancer.

Margaret says the loss of her dear friend “knocked the wind out of her” and life behind the bar hasn’t been the same since.

She said: “June was a great friend and she was my right hand. We were very close and worked great together so when she died it knocked the wind out of me. 

“It was very hard to go on without her there. It was like my right arm was cut off and to be honest, it just hasn’t been the same since.”

Margaret says she and Andy will miss their regular punters, who have been left shocked at the couple’s decision to sell the bar.

Margaret added: “I have always said I will write a book and I mean it. I have so many stories to tell from working behind this bar. I have been a counsellor, social worker, teacher, confident and everything else in-between. you become close to your customers over the years. It’s hard not to.

“We have a lot of loyal regulars, some of them can’t believe we are selling the pub, but they understand. We will miss them and the pub. It’s the end of an era.”

‘The Vic’ as it is popularly known, is the latest Kilwinning pub to go on the market after family run The Alton and The Cosy Corner both went up for sale in recent months.

Daughter Martha added: “This wee pub has been a part of all our lives for so long. So many memories have been created that have literally lasted a lifetime but all good things come to an end and my parents have decided to focus on them and sell the pub.

“Mum has worked her backside off over the years she’s missed out on family time with her own kids and grandkids, she’s been a councillor, a confident a social worker but most importantly she’s been a friend to many but there comes at time when you need to put yourself first and focus on your family and your health.”