THE doors to popular Slemish House Bed and Breakfast have closed after 33 years.
B&B owner, Betty Shaw, has decided to retire and return to the village of Broughshane where she was born.
Betty's well-deserved retirement comes after a long career in hospitality which began in 1984.
Over the years Betty has welcomed guests from around the world to her B&B at Albert Place in Ballymena.
Prior to becoming a B&B owner, Betty worked at Michelin for 13 years before taking redundancy.
Betty, who never married, explained that her main ambitions were to “have my own car, my own house, my own business and be my own boss!!”
And while she worked in Michelin Betty bought 51 Albert Place as she “always wanted a house with an open fire and a backyard”.
After taking redundancy Betty, who is a big country music fan, also spent six months travelling alone around Australia and New Zealand and worked for a time in the Adair Arms Hotel.
During this time the then manager of the hotel, Ms Muir, encouraged Betty to consider running a B&B.
Betty explained: “It was Ms Muir who said 'if you want to be your own boss why don't you start a B&B'. I thought about it and she helped me get started. It was Ms Muir who got me my first customers, some young people from the catering college who were doing work experience at the hotel.
“Since then I have had all sorts of people through the doors, workmen, shopfitters, young doctors and shop managers.
“I have had a lot of people return to the B&B every year and I even get Christmas cards from them.”
However, Betty explained one of her favourite parts of the job was hosting the overseas footballers for Ballymena United.
In fact it was this that rekindled Betty's love of football and she regularly attends matches at the Showgrounds.
When Betty was young her brothers used to take her to the Ballymena United home matches and they won the Irish Cup.
Despite running a busy B&B Betty is a keen traveller and has been around the world on her own four times.
She is also involved in Radio Cracker and is a community volunteer in Broughshane and her retirement will allow her to spend more time on both.
Although owing to arm pains she said there would be “no more weeding just tea making” and Betty likes the tea breaks.
She commented: “I have had a wonderful 33 years running my B&B and have enjoyed meeting so many interesting people and helping them to enjoy their stay in Ballymena.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my neighbour Margaret who would fill in for me if I was ever running a bit late. I would also like to thank all my customers for their support during the last 33 years.
“I will greatly miss meeting and dealing with so many lovely people but I am looking forward to some more leisure time now.”
Meanwhile, Betty was delighted recently to receive a letter from the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Lindsay Millar, congratulating her on her retirement.
The Mayor said Betty's service to local tourism was a “fantastic achievement”.
She added: “Without the continued efforts of local people like Betty, who kept tourism alive during the dark years of The Troubles, Northern Ireland would not be experiencing the resurgence in visitors that we are lucky enough to benefit from today.”
The Mayor thanked Betty for the “time, effort, resources and personal commitment” she has put into welcoming visitors to the Borough.