A POPULAR south Oxfordshire landlady has died suddenly, aged 71.

Christine Geary, who ran the Swan in Wantage with husband Peter for 14 years unexpectedly died of heart failure on June 19, at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough.

Her son Nick Ellis described Mrs Geary as “an exceptional wife, mother and [great] grandmother, loved by everyone she ever met.”

She had only retired in March.

Born in September 1946 to parents Ted and Nancy Barratt, Christine grew up in Walsall with her elder sister Judy.

Mrs Geary married David Ellis in 1966 but they divorced 14 years later, after having Nick, now 50, Joanne, 47, and Miranda, 45.

In 1980, the full-time mum and housewife met Peter in Cornwall. The couple and three children relocated to Wantage in 1982, where they purchased the Swan that May and kept it until 1996.

Son Nick Ellis recalls: “Mum was known by virtually everyone in Wantage. She was a pivotal part of people’s early lives in the 80s, as the Swan was (then) the focal point for young people.”

After leaving the town in 1996, the couple had spells in Newbury. Kingsbridge and Maidenhead, before settling in Hungerford.

Peter retired in 2006, before dying from a heart attack at home in September 18, 2008, the day before his wife’s birthday.

Following his death, Christine moved to Brill, near Thame, close to daughter Joanne and her family.

She ran the Sports and Social Club from 2010 to March this year, when she retired.

Mrs Geary adored spending time with friends and family – she leaves behind 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Mr Ellis added: “The hundreds of condolence messages have been overwhelming, proving just how popular we all know she was.

“She commanded total respect from all the punters, as she was very genuine, friendly and would do anything for anyone. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and gave people a chance.

“My sisters and I owe her everything. She bought us up in difficult circumstances. Not being able to call, or go and see her again is totally heartbreaking.

“I miss her so much. The whole family are completely devastated.”

Mrs Geary had seemingly beaten cancer seven years ago. But a few months ago secondary breast cancer was found in her liver – yet she died not knowing it had spread and was terminal.

Last month she developed sepsis and died less than three hours after getting to hospital. Her three children, son in law and two grandsons were at her side.

The funeral, open to anyone who knew her, will be held at Brill Church at 1.30pm on Friday, before a Brill Social Club reception. Flowers are welcome, especially lilies, which she loved.

For more information, contact Mr Ellis on 07768 777 111.