PUB landlords are calling last orders after 12 years of serving the Maldon community.

Charlie and Viv Little will be officially retiring after running the Queen’s Head on Hythe Quay since 2006.

Mr and Mrs Little have worked in the watering hole business for more than 31 years, with their journey starting at the Railway Tavern in Kelvedon.

This was followed by stints at the Swan in Brentwood and the Mitre in Wickham Bishops.

Following this, they moved up to the borders of Scotland for four years, before returning to Essex to run the Duke of Wellington in Hatfield Peverel, before settling at the Queen’s Head.

Mr Little, 69, said that “the right time is now” to raise a glass to retirement with their children all grown up and pensions maturing.

Despite this, he said that they will greatly miss the pub.

He said: “I will miss the camaraderie of the Queen’s Head, it’s just been a nice place to be on the front of the quay, and the people in the area who you always see.

“It’s a day in day out job, and one of the things I’ll enjoy most about retirement will be not having to come in twice a day, because running a pub really is an 18-hour day.

“You’ll miss the characters and you’ll miss the customers, but there will be benefits for retirement.”

Over their tenure the Littles have worked on projects with the Maldon Rotary Club, as well as working and supporting the Maldon Mud Race, where contestants used to enter the mud near to their pub.

Mr and Mrs Little have thanked all of their loyal patrons and their hardworking staff.

They will be handing back the keys to Gray and Sons, with a new management team lined up to step in. In their retirement they hope to visit their son, a ski instructor, who lives in France.

Mr Little added: “Along with the success comes the appreciation we have for all the fantastic people we’ve meet along the way.

“To Jane our chef, a very big thank you, without your skills our journey would never have been the success that it was.

“Also a big thank you to our hard working front of house staff, including Annie Ellingham, our very special friend, who I’ve known since I was 19.

“Also to Gavin Peachey, my bar manager, he was always there, never sick, and worked tirelessly.”

The couple’s last day as landlords will be on Tuesday, September 25.