Dozens of tributes have been paid to “amazing, funny, wonderful, caring” former Ramsgate landlady and tea room owner Pat Corby.
Pat passed away at Thanet Hospice with husband Len by her side on August 9.
The couple are known as a Ramsgate institution after more than 35 years pulling pints and then serving up teas since coming to the isle to run the George and Dragon pub back in 1984.
Pat and Len spent seven years at the George and Dragon, 15 years at the Elephant and Castle and almost 20 years at Corby’s Tea Rooms.
Pat was born in Bermondsey in 1946 to parents Nel and Bert. Her younger sister Linda was born five and a half years later.
Pat and Len were married in 1964 and had two daughters, Sharon born in 1965 and Keeley in 1970.
In 1969 they left Bermondsey to move to Basingstoke in Hampshire where Len had been offered a home and job through his work at the council.
Pat worked at Basingstoke Hospital, a job she loved, and the family stayed in the town for 14 years until agreeing to make the move to the coast as the new bosses of the George and Dragon in Ramsgate.
It was during the following years that Pat and Len became legendary in the hospitality trade, feeding and watering thousands of customers and getting involved in hundreds of charity events from Jubilee party celebrations to helping under-privileged children. On one occasion, Pat and the Ladies Auxiliary raised £42,000 for QEQM Hospital by putting on a Spice Girls show -complete with outfits.
Not adverse to a bit of dressing up, Pat has also been remembered for donning an elephant outfit – while at the helm of the Elephant and Castle pub – and going on pitch for a football cup final game.
At the end of the 90s, Pat and Len decided to branch out from the pub trade and fulfil Pat’s dream of being at the helm of an old-fashioned tea rooms.
And so from the ashes of York Street, literally, Corby’s Tea Rooms was born.
In the early 1990s there was a huge fire on the eastern side of York Street, opposite what was once Tesco, destroying all the properties between today’s Hovelling Bat and The Crown pub. The area lay derelict until Thanet council began a project to create commercial premises and refurbish Charlotte Court.
At the end of the decade the scheme was complete and Pat and Len became among the first to open a business there, marking the start of two decades at Corby’s Tea Rooms.
The couple retired in 2019 and were presented with a framed Ramsgate crest by then town mayor and mayoress Trevor and Mandy Shonk and town sergeant Mac Wilkinson.
Their place as part of the fabric of Ramsgate is even marked with a painting they feature in that can be seen in the Ramsgate Tunnels.
Daughter Sharon said: “Mum would never forget a birthday, there would always be a cake and we would go out as a family. She was always there for all of us.
“She was so caring and loved people. She was kind and thoughtful and mum and dad both did so much for the town.
“My mum made every individual person she met feel special, including us. They would take people to London on trips, mum would take dinner to her elderly customers, she was so thoughtful.
“She was my best friend, we both loved shopping and music and went to see Barbara Streisand and things perhaps my dad would not want to do.
“She was a legend.”
Paying tribute, friends have remembered an “irreplaceable” and “kind, generous, funny, lady that left us with a smile on our faces.”
Pat leaves behind devoted husband Len, daughters Sharon and Keeley, grandchildren Jodie, Cherelle and Lee and five great-grandchildren who she was immensely proud of.
The funeral service will be held on August 22, 1.45pm, at Thanet Crematorium.