Norwich pub sign makes ideal Valentine’s gift for city couple

It was a love match forged behind the bar of a Norwich pub – and a husband and wife now have a memento of their time there to cherish.

Jackie Heffer-Cooke, 39, and James Cooke, 37, from Sprowston, fell in love while serving behind the bar at the Mischief Tavern in Fye Bridge Street, near Magdalen Street.

As reported, the pub sign was knocked off its perch by a bus in August last year and the manager, through the Evening News, offered it to anyone who could raise a lot of money for charity.

Mrs Heffer-Cooke, who is a massage therapist and opened the Orange Grove complementary health clinic in Norwich last October, held a charity event earlier this month, which raised �326 for Future Radio and Future Education.

She gave the sign to her husband as a surprise Valentine's gift last night.

She said: 'My lovely husband had torn the article about the sign from the paper and it sat on my breakfast bar while I plotted how I could raise enough money to give it to him for Valentine's, and then I came up with the charity idea.'

The couple, who now have two children Megan, six, and Sam, two, met in 1995.

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Mrs Heffer-Cooke added: 'It was 1995, when as a second year English literature student I worked at the Mischief to supplement my poor student income.

'On December 20, 1995, a long ringlet haired skinny student from Nottingham joined me working behind the bar.

'He was home in Norwich for the Christmas holidays and apparently had worked on and off at The Mischief for the past two years. His name was James and he had the bluest eyes, longest lashes, and softest smile. We fell in love that night.

'Seventeen years later we have been married for 12 years and have two gorgeous children, and they both have the bluest eyes, longest lashes, and softest smiles. You can see why the Mischief is so important to us.'

Pub manager Jeff Davies said: 'Jackie sent me an email about the article in the paper and asked if the sign was available and how much we thought the charity donation should be.

'I told her that the sign was quite big and if she popped in she could see the sign close up and we could discuss the potential donation.

'When she came and looked at the sign, she said she would raise around �300 by having a 'charity massage day' – �300 for an old and tired sign seemed too good an offer to turn down.'

The couple plan to keep the sign in their garden as it is probably too big to go anywhere else. The sign depicts a boy with a slingshot hiding behind a tree after just smashing a window with the weapon, and is based on a famous painting.

Entries for the Mischief's competition to design a new sign for the pub can still be scanned and sent until Saturday's deadline to The prize of a �1,000 bar tab to be drunk at The Mischief will be announced on February 29.

Have you done something special for charity? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email

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