Local Faces: Nigel and Jane McKinnon-Clark

  |  Published: Jan 1st 2012
Nigel and Jane McKinnon-Clark

Nigel McKinnon-Clark was born in 1950 in Sutton, Surrey, the younger son of a successful owner of the family motor business.

 Educated in Surrey and London he started his working life in the city as a Trainee Stockbroker, followed by a stint in the Money Broking business, with lots of travel to far and distant places.

 At the age of 31, Nigel realized his ambition to run his own business, when, after some intensive training, he made a complete career change and became the landlord of the Aristocrat pub, on the gyratory system in Aylesbury - a  bit of a change, one might say, but he loved it. 

The Aristocrat’s Happy Hour was the place to be, and the parties were the talk of the town: Steel Bands in the garden in the Summer, Beaujolais Nouveaux, Halloween, and of course the famous New Year’s Eve fancy dress evenings.

Nigel and his wife Jane made a great team and expanded on to The Harrow at Bishopstone, and then their third site at the Chequers in Weston Turville.

They moved into Weston Turville and really appreciated the fact that their children and their business were in the same village. They made so many friends as well, most of whom they still see and  socialise with to this day.

Unable to sit still, Nigel decided to sell these successful enterprises, and went to work for Regent Inns, who already owned the Red Lion in Wendover.

 A frenzied few years ensued, as Regent became a public quoted Company in 1994 and expanded across the UK.

 Being a local lad, Nigel kept a particular interest in the Red Lion, by now a successful part of the expanded group.  However, things took a turn for the worse in the late 1990’s when a big black hole was discovered in the business’s finances. He decided it was time to get out and so he set up  his own London based Pubs & Bars business in 2001.

 Nigel says, “It’s been a great ride, some years better than others, and along with every other business in the UK,  the recession hasn’t done us any favours!”

 ane was born in Purley, Surrey in 1953, the eldest of three children.  She attended a grammar school in Dorking, Surrey attaining good results in both ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. 

 Her first job was in London as a textile technologist in the marketing department of new yarns and fibres.  She travelled frequently to Milan, working with a renowned knitwear designer, who made up garments for  promotional shows around the UK.

 In 1976, she moved to work within Fashion Retail, firstly with Country Casuals as a buyer, and later with Jaeger as Retail Fashion Advisor.

 During this time, whilst having a drink in a pub in Surrey near her childhood home, she bumped into Nigel, whom she had known since she was 14, and had seen occasionally over the years.   As he left, he asked for her number and they married three months later!

 They lived in Epsom over the next few years, both commuting to London, and when Nigel decided on a change of career in 1983 they left Epsom and moved into the tiny upstairs rooms of the Aristocrat in Aylesbury.  Jane carried on commuting to London and was known as “Nigel’s part time wife”.  She does admit that she thought  Nigel’s new career choice might be a passing phase, but Nigel loved the business and was quickly very successful.

 In l984 their first daughter, Sarah, arrived and fortunately they had moved into their first proper home in Bucks only two weeks before!  They lived in this house in Weston Turville for the next 13 years and loved the village.

 In 1986 daughter number two, Laura, arrived and Nigel was looking to expand his empire.

 They took over the Chequers in Weston Turville, and employed a nanny to look after the girls so that Jane could help run the two businesses.  After a major refurbishment, the Chequers business grew rapidly and enjoyed the same success as the Aristocrat.  Jane found it difficult with long hours and two small children so they decided to sell the business and she was able to become a full time mother.

 However once the girls were settled at school, she also went back to school and studied Interior Design – a natural progression from her textiles and fashion background.  She was able to help Nigel redecorating some of the Regent Inns pubs including The Red Lion, as well as working on commissions for local clients.  She worked closely with Sue at Cromptons who became a very good friend .

 By now Jane had become Mum’s Taxi as the girls were active teenagers.  They sold up and lived at the Red Lion with their dog, Lucky, for 6 weeks until they were able to move into their present house in Wendover.  As usual, Phil and Jan, then managers of the Red Lion, made their stay as comfortable as possible!

 Now, after 11 years in Wendover, they are on the move again!  The girls have flown the nest and Nigel and Jane feel the time  has come to realise another dream.

They are hopefully off to France, where they already have holiday properties, and are looking to find another renovation project.

They are not sure if this is forever.  They will have to wait and see, but  do know that they will miss Wendover  and hope the many friends they have made in the area will go out to visit them.

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