THE family which runs a former Echo pub of the year have announced they will be stepping down.

The Simmons family, who run the Bread and Cheese in London Road, Benfleet, have announced they will not be reopening, and new tenants will be coming to the premises.

The family saw the pub winning the Echo Pub of the Year award in June 2019.

In an emotional statement on the pub's Facebook page, the family said: "We the Simmons Family are sad to announce, that we will not be reopening the doors again to our beautiful pub, The Bread & Cheese.

"Unfortunately COVID hitting our industry and being charged rent whilst our doors were closed, has left us with financial difficulties & no other option then to say goodbye to this chapter in our lives.

"We will be handing the keys back to the brewery after spending 6 weeks refurbishing the property to enable us to surrender our lease. So a massive thank you to our family and friends for their time, hard work and support through such a hard and emotional time for us.

"The brewery have arranged for new tenants to take over and hopefully be open for you all before Christmas. We wish them the best of luck.

"We want to thank each and everyone one of you for helping the Bread & Cheese grow into such a successful pub & community hub. The private functions, charity fundraisers, themed evenings, live music events & not forgetting winning the Evening Echo pub of the year award in 2019... what an achievement

"We have had a truly amazing 5 years serving our local community and would like to now take this opportunity to thank ALL of our wonderful staff that have played a massive part in making our pub feel so special, each and everyone of you were amazing.

"Thank you to all of our extremely talented local musicians, DJ’s & entertainers that have entertained all our customers over the years, you are all fantastic.

"To our loyal & amazing customers for all supporting your local, we have created many special friendships that will hopefully continue post Bread & Cheese you have all been great fun & what memories we have all made together.

"Not to forget our furry friends

"So this is us.. our final goodbye.

"All keep safe & well, have a lovely Christmas, we wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2021.

"Hopefully we will see you one day... the other side of the bar."