THE popular Lynn Tait Gallery in Old Leigh is set to close on Christmas Eve after more than 25 years following its owner’s death.

The closure follows Lynn’s death aged 68 on June 1.

In a post on the gallery’s Facebook page Lynn’s husband Andy said the “heart has gone out of the business” since his wife’s death.

Mr Tait, 70, from Westcliff, said: “It has been difficult trying to decide what we should do and whether we should try and keep it running.

“It became inevitable that we would close and December 24 seemed to be a good day to close, not necessarily from a business view but Lynn would have liked to go out on a notable date.”

Mr Tait added: “Lynn did the buying and Lynn managed the shop. She had a superb support team in the staff there.

“We’re getting ready for Christmas and will have the usual displays but no grotto this year. We are going out on a high. It’s what Lynn would have wanted.”

The family intends to reopen the premises at a later date but they have yet to decide what sort of business it will be.

Mr Tait said: “It’s sad that the business we have grown to love will no longer be there, but there are plans for an exciting new project which will take its place.”

Mr Tate informed customers of the closure on the gallery’s Facebook page. He said: “Lynn founded this business in the early Eighties and the first shop opened at 59 High Street in Old Leigh.

“Having dipped her toe into the water, the shop moved to the present site where a derelict foundry was transformed into the present day building and business.

“Sadly, Lynn died in June and the heart has gone out of the business. Therefore, with great regret, we have decided to close the shop in its present form on Christmas Eve. This has been the most difficult of decisions, but as the weeks have passed since Lynn died, it has become inevitable.

“We hope that all our past customers and visitors will come to see us before we close. This is a desperately sad time, but we will go out on a high, just as Lynn would have wanted.”

Leigh town councillor Caroline Parker was a regular at the gallery. She said: “It’s really sad news because Lynn Tait, as a person and a gallery were a main feature of Leigh. We’re losing another valuable part of Leigh. Losing Lynn was bad enough. It would have been nice if the gallery could have carried on in her memory.”