A BREWER and pub owner who changed the face of real ale in Barnsley despite battling a long-term illness has been recognised for his work - as he prepares to pull his final pint.

James Taylor, 62, took on his dream job when he opened Two Roses Brewery in Darton in 2011 - but a devastating brain disease left him with unpredictable bouts of memory loss that eventually caused him to sell the brewery.

James set up the Arcade Alehouse in town five years after the brewery, and after much thought he has now decided to call time on the pub as well.

He was presented with a special award from Barnsley CAMRA this week for his commitment to real ale - which he says came ‘completely out of the blue’.

“It’s fantastic that people think that much about what we’ve done,” he added.

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“A lot of people love this place. I used to work for the council and I never had anybody come up to me and say I’d done a good job, but people do that.

“It makes you feel a million dollars.”

James was diagnosed with limbic encephalitis - a condition where the body’s own antibodies attack part of the brain - in April 2016, mere weeks before he was set to open his pub.

The condition means James suffers from episodes of memory loss and tiredness, and is sometimes unable to think clearly.

It forced him to sell Two Roses and, while he initially carried on with the pub after managing his symptoms, he has now decided to let that go as well.

“If I’d have been in better health I’d have kept it going much, much longer,” James said.

“It’s physically too much, I’ve been struggling on all fronts.

“This place is quite heavy work, I’ve got a couple of people working on the bar but me and Sue are still cleaning and emptying the cellar.”

James was taken ill weeks before the pub, meant as a showcase for the brewery’s beers, was due to open - leaving wife Sue to take over, as James could not remember anything about it.

“He started the plans and I had to pick them up and finish them,” Sue, 60, said.

“Before his treatment kicked in, we didn’t talk about the brewery or the pub because we didn’t want to stress him out.

“He had absolutely no idea we were opening a pub.

“He came in and was pointing at things saying, ‘where’d you get that from? I like that’, and we had to tell him he had bought it.”

While the CAMRA award has James’ name on it, he says it is as much Sue’s as his.

Among the couple’s accolades, many of which adorn the walls of the Arcade, their proudest moment is winning CAMRA’s ‘Pub of the Year’ twice.

The couple, who live in Staincross Common, say they have already had enquiries from people interested in taking over the pub.

“We will miss it, when you start a business it becomes your baby,” James said.

“It’s hard to start a brand new business and make it successful, but we have done that with two businesses and we’ve got a lot to be proud of.

“The fact that somebody wants to come along behind us and continue that legacy is very special.”

Sue added: “I’m glad we did it, but everything comes to an end.”

Acting secretary of Barnsley CAMRA Nigel Croft said: “Even as James got ill his passion for real ale was there.

“Brewing is something James loves doing, and CAMRA recognise that. The beers he brewed were absolutely fantastic.

“He was his own worst critic. He would say a beer wasn’t his best, and you’d try it and say it was perfect - but he could tell if you were lying.

“This is a personal award. It’s a thank you from Barnsley CAMRA.”