A BARROW couple who have been planning their big day for 18 months have spoken of their heartbreak at being told their wedding venue was closing.

More than 50 functions due to be held at Chequers Hotel in Dalton have been cancelled after the company behind the venue fell into financial difficulties.

One Barrow dad who was due to get married there later this year told The Mail he and his girlfriend were contacted last Thursday by Chequers manager Charlotte Benn.

"I'd been chasing them for the invoice for a few weeks and then they called us and asked us to come in and talk about the wedding," the 35-year-old shipyard worker said.

"Then they dropped the bombshell and said 'we've got some bad news' and told us the hotel was being sold on the 16th of June.

"My girlfriend was really upset; I was just really angry, because they were telling us on the 6th of June that it was being sold 10 days later, but they've clearly known about this for a while.

"No one just walks into a hotel off the street and says 'I want to buy this place'."

Fortunately for the couple, who have been together for 11 years, they have managed to move their wedding to Abbey House Hotel at no additional cost and have been refunded their £500 deposit.

However, their original date wasn't available at any local venues, so they have been forced to move their big day forward by four days.

This has resulted in an additional cost of around £1,000 when taking into account the need for new 'save the date' cards, invitations and registrar fees.

Chequers bosses are understood approached The Dunes and Abbey House Hotel with a list of more than 50 scheduled functions scheduled in a bid to find an alternative venue.

Around half of the 30 part and full-time employees who work at Chequers are believed to have been offered positions at The Dunes and the Townhouse which are owned by Lucidity Group.

The groom-to-be added: "I've got to hand it to the likes of The Dunes and Abbey House Hotel.

"They've gone above and beyond and Abbey House Hotel has even given us some extras for free in light of what's happened."

Suzy Bennett, the general manager at The Dunes, said she had been approached by a number of couples in need of a new wedding venue following the closure of Chequers.

"We've been contacted by quite a few people," she said.

"The positive news is that as far as I'm aware anyone who booked a function for Chequers has been given their deposit back.

We'll do everything we can to help anyone affected."

The Mail understands an out-of-town investor has agreed to purchase Chequers and plans to use the land for housing.

Two other hotel owners in Barrow have told The Mail that they have separately been approached by the owners of Chequers within the last four years asking if they would be interested in buying the venue.