AS IF THE last five months of lockdown limitations and being left financially crippled by coronavirus wasn’t devastating enough – now one Powys pub has been forced to close again due to the elements.

Simon and Alison Mason, landlords at the Prince Llewelyn pub in Cilmery, just outside Builth Wells, have already been pulverised by the pandemic. But, having being allowed to reopen last week, they must once again bring the shutters down after bank holiday Monday’s stormy weather uprooted their marquee and “smashed it to pieces”.

The pub had only been back open seven days following the joyous lifting of restrictions on the hospitality sector in Wales on Monday, April 26 – which now allows pubs and cafes to welcome customers back in an outdoor setting.

But after a punishing year, more pain was waiting for Simon and Alison after they returned to Powys from Portsmouth on Monday afternoon.

“We’re completely devastated,” said the couple. “Can things get any worse in Wales for the hospitality industry?

“Like many other establishments we have been fighting throughout the pandemic, offering takeaways to help pay the monthly bills. Our first week open and a storm came along, giving Welsh hospitality yet another beating.”

The owners were out at the time, having travelled back to their hometown of Emsworth, on the Hampshire coast, early on Monday morning, with son Jake left to pick up the pieces.

“We were both out at the time but fortunately our son Jake was at the Prince,” they said. “He thankfully called for immediate help from his friends in Builth and some of our regulars here in Cilmery. They immediately came to his aid and thankfully made the marquee safe.

“We are just so grateful nobody was hurt. It could have been far worse. Now we have yet again been forced to close temporarily. Time to reorder and rebuild.”

In a post on the pub’s Facebook page late on Monday evening, Alison added: “Simon and I have just arrived home to the Prince. We had to travel to Portsmouth early this morning. Our poor son Jake, who many of you will know, had to deal with all of this. Thank you so much to Kev and Dai, Greg and Dom for coming straight over to help him. We owe you all a few beers.

“Thank you also for all the lovely messages and comments, you have made us feel better. We will be back... watch this space.”

The couple had already spoken of taking an “expensive gamble” to reopen outside last Monday, rather than wait for the indoor return for pubs and cafes, scheduled for May 17.

Due to the Welsh Government’s Senedd elections taking place this Thursday, May 6, hospitality sector bosses in Wales have not received the most recent round of restart grants, which has hindered many in Simon and Alison’s position.

“We are desperately trying to keep our business afloat, purchasing marquees, gazebos, parasols etc, offering safe outside dining,” they added.

“Then, for us here in Cilmery, our marquee gets thrown up into the air leaving it smashed to pieces. We’re still trying to pick bits of it up.”

The duo announced on Tuesday via Facebook that they will be back open in time for the weekend, even if they’re only able to offer a takeaway service.