A waitress has told how staff at a much-loved upmarket wedding venue burst into tears as news broke of its shock closure.
Longhirst Hall, near Morpeth, in Northumberland, closed its doors on Friday as bosses announced the company, Hotel Lease (Number 3) Limited, is in the process of going into liquidation.
Dozens of couples were set to tie the knot at the picturesque location and it is believed the hotel was booked out for every day of this month.
None of the bookings are set to go ahead and brides and grooms from across the North East face disappointment or the hassle and expense of finding another venue at very short notice.
Now, it has emerged the staff were told they were losing their jobs the same day.
Helen Robinson, 58, from Ashington, had worked at the hotel for 11 years as a waitress and enjoyed her job.
Helen said, just moments after the announcement, vans arrived to collect food, alcohol and other goods from the venue as staff looked on in disbelief.
“On Friday, we were all sent for a meeting at about 10am and we got a couple of minutes’ notice by the directors,” she said.
“We were told the company, Hotel Lease (Number 3), was going into liquidation and we were subsequently losing our jobs.
“We were then asked if there were any questions and people were just in floods of tears. We had a wedding on Friday and a funeral on Sunday but then that was it.
“I’m devastated – we all are. I have a mortgage and car payments to make, and we haven’t been paid yet.
“There are nearly 70 staff, it is not just the brides and grooms that are devastated. We have lost our jobs.”
Deposits have been put down for bookings as far ahead as 2015 but none of the events booked at the hotel will be going ahead.
Samantha Lewins and partner Adam Patrick had been due to get married at Longhirst Hall this coming Saturday.
The couple, of Ellington in Northumberland, had just finished paying their £4,500 bill and are now in a race against time to secure another venue as it is too late to cancel other aspects of their wedding without losing their money.
Rachel Mullarkey and partner Lee Campbell had also booked their wedding at Longhirst Hall and had been due to tie the knot there on March 23.
Scott McGregor, director with Grainger Corporate Rescue and Recovery, who are waiting to be appointed as liquidators, made a statement.
He said: “The company is in the process of going into liquidation at the moment.
“The company that operates the hotel at the moment, that company ceased trading and that’s as much as we can say at the moment. The position appears to be that weddings are not going to take place, unfortunately.
“As of now the hotel is closed.”