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Hospice pulls out of restaurant purchase

31 May 2024 3 minute read
The Hardwick, in Abergavenny. Photo via Google

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A hospice has pulled out of a planned purchase of what was one of Wales’ best-known restaurants.

The Hardwick, near Abergavenny, closed suddenly in October last year – just months after the office administrator in charge of its finances was sentenced alongside her husband, a casual chef at the restaurant, for a fraud that cost the business £150,000.

In May it was revealed Newport-based d St David’s Hospice Care intended buying the building to use as a day hospice as well as operate a cafe to cater for its visitors and families.

It would have also retained the self-catering holiday accommodation at the former pub, on the B4598 Abergavenny to Raglan road, that was previously known as the Horse and Jockey.

Change of use

A change of use planning application had been submitted to Monmouthshire County Council to allow the restaurant to be used as a hospice day centre, classed as a non-residential institution, while the kitchen would have been shared between it and the cafe it was planned to open.

Nine jobs would have been created with six working in the day centre and three in the cafe which, according to the application, was intended to “be community-focused and aimed to be used by local residents who will drop off the relatives in need of the day care service”.

However, a letter sent on behalf of hospice chief executive Emma Saysell, to Monmouthshire council’s planning department has confirmed it will no longer be pursuing the plan.

It stated: “St David’s will not be proceeding with the purchase of The Hardick (sic) and would therefore like to withdraw the current planning application with immediate effect.”

St David’s Hospice Care declined to comment when approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Swindled

The business, including a three-bedroom adjoining owner’s accommodation, was put up for sale for a reported £825,000, in February by owner Stephen Terry, who has appeared on BBC show Great British Menu and was Gordon Ramsay’s best man.

Over 18 years under his guidance it became recognised as one of Wales’ best restaurants. It won multiple awards, including a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide, being named the best restaurant in Wales in consecutive years, and named the 19th best gastropub in the coveted Estrella Damm 50 Best Gastropubs list in 2020.

But Mr Terry revealed the business had struggled financially after former financial administrator Nicola Nightingale had swindled thousands from it.

She had pleaded guilty to fraud while her husband, Simon Nightingale, had denied possessing criminal property, the cash transferred to him by his wife, but was found guilty after a four-day trial in 2023.

Both were handed suspended prison terms with the sentences criticised by Mr Terry at the time.


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