A NORTH Berwick couple have made the “difficult” decision to sell their business of two decades as they plan to retire.

Brenda and Roy Symon are set to say goodbye to gallery, gift shop and cafe Westgate Galleries after more than 20 years owning the business.

The business, which the couple took over in 2003, has been running in the town since the 1980s and Mr and Mrs Symon hope whoever buys it will continue to run it in the same fashion.

The couple renovated the property upon taking it over, installing a cafe as well as upgrading the interior.

Mrs Symon, 61, told the Courier: “It has been quite a journey over the last 20 years and we have very much enjoyed it.

"When we took the business over it was a bit run down and we had to work a lot to get it to where it is now.

“We have so many loyal customers and love meeting new faces when they come through the door. We are going to miss it.”

East Lothian Courier: Roy and Brenda Symon, owners of Westgate Galleries. Image: Gordon Bell

Mrs Symon, originally from Edinburgh, and her husband both continue to work in the shop, which is open seven days a week, and will continue to do so until a new owner is found.

The pair have been married for nearly 20 years and live in the town. Mrs Symon has a daughter, Karla, from a previous marriage and three grandchildren: Lily, eight, Alba, five, and Rosie, two.

Mrs Symon previously worked as operations manager at the Scottish Seabird Centre, helping to open the cafe at the business, while Mr Symon has a background as a civil servant.

She said that the decision to retire had not been an easy one, but that the couple wanted to spend more time with their grandchildren following the death of Mrs Symon’s father, John.

She said: “We’ve had a few people close to us pass away over the last few years and my dad was a huge help in getting the business open.

“It made us realise that life is too short and we want to spend as much of it as we can with our grandkids and my daughter.

“We hope to have a few more holidays now and do a bit more golfing.

“I took up golfing about five years ago and I attempt to do it – but I’d like to be someone who golfs now and get a bit better at it!

“We are looking forward to it but we will still be kept busy.”

'The thing we'll miss most is the people'

The couple own the property next door, which is used as a holiday let, as well as a rear garage used as a business let. They will continue to operate both after the sale of the business.

Mrs Symon also thanked son-in-law Steven for his work at the business.

Looking back on the 20 years at the business, Mrs Symon said: “The thing we will miss the most is all the people that come in.

“You spark up a conversation with them and it is always very interesting.

“Over the years we have had many students come in and work here; a lot of them are grown up now, including my daughter Karla, who went to North Berwick High School.

“The response we have had is brilliant and we will miss everyone. It has been a difficult decision to retire.

“We hope to see it sold as Westgate Galleries and the new owners continue its legacy. But we also have to be realistic in the current economy that that may not be possible. We have had some interest but nothing is sorted yet.”

The business is listed for sale by Graham Sibbald at a freehold price of £575,000, and details can be found at rightbiz.co.uk/buy_business/for_sale/604818_east_lothian.html

Kenny Miller, chair of North Berwick Community Council, said: “It has been a very popular shop and cafe for a long time, and I wish Brenda and Roy well in their retirement.

“It is to be hoped that someone will take over the business and run it in its present form, to the same high standards.”