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Community concerned for pub owner after brain tumour diagnosis

Support for Rachael Viala overwhelming as she faces uncertainty ahead of surgery
Rachael Viala, then known as Scott-Screaton, became the new owner of the Brass Bell Pub in Crofton two years ago. (File photo by Robert Barron/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

The health of a popular Crofton pub owner is a major concern after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Rachael Viala (nee Screaton) took over ownership of the Brass Bell Pub two years ago in April and has a long-term lease for the space in the building. She also worked at the pub for many years under the previous ownership before taking over and has always enjoyed a great rapport with the clientele there.

Related story: Crofton’s Brass Bell Pub has new owner

Pub patrons, friends and family are now hoping for the best prognosis for Rachael as she endures a difficult time. Her absence from the pub is already being felt, as everyone awaits any ongoing news about her condition.

“Rachael worked seven days a week and she hasn’t been there for a couple of weeks now,” said her aunt Lianne Brown. Even during COVID, “she did a wonderful job,” Brown added.

The first sign of serious problems for Rachael arose nearly three weeks ago.

“She had her daughter’s first birthday behind Cedrick’s,” pointed out Brown. “She said her back was sore.”

Rachael went to the doctor and received some medication for her back, but complications occurred again two days later when she was shopping. “She thought she was having a stroke and went to hospital,” Brown noted.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans were conducted and revealed a tumour.

“It’s about the size of a golf ball,” said Brown. “She’s going to be down for a long time.

“They’re trying to get the swelling on the brain down. It’s hard on everybody. Everybody loves her.”

Brown added Rachael will be having two surgeries, with the first one on Wednesday, March 29.

Rachael and Tim Viala had planned to be married previously, but COVID put off their plans until they finally tied the knot officially in August of last year. In the meantime, they had daughter Sawyer, who turned one, just as Rachael was beginning to experience problems.

“I feel they will need some financial support to help get through this,” noted Brown. “She will not be able to work for some time and her husband will be travelling back and forth. This is very devastating for family and friends. She gives a lot to the community.”

A fundraising campaign started by Brown to help them out had already raised more than $7,000 of its $10,000 goal by Friday afternoon. Click here for details.

“Some lady Rachael worked with when she was 16 just donated $1,500,” Brown enthused.

She said a donation box has also been set up at Cedrick’s Coffee House on Joan Avenue in Crofton, just a block away from the Brass Bell, for those who’d like to offer support. No donations are being taken at the bar, with people being directed to Cedrick’s instead.

Kathleen Storteboom, who has also worked at the Brass Bell many years, has taken over running the pub in the interim, with many others chipping in to help.

While Rachael has been primarily at home while awaiting surgery, Brown reported she was having problems with her vision Friday and went back to hospital.

Brown is in constant communication with Rachael to see how she’s doing almost minute-by-minute.

“I talk to Rachael 20 times a day,” said Brown. “We just text. (Thursday), she was having a bad day. She was on the couch all day.”

Just after Rachael took over the pub in May of 2021, The Upside Guys from CHEK-TV came to Crofton to do an on-location broadcast.

Brown has contacted Ed Bain of CHEK about the possibility of returning for a fundraiser.

“If they organize a fundraiser, etc. we could certainly look at that for a show,” Bain indicated in an email to the Courier.

Related story: The Upside Guys brighten the mood in Crofton

In the meantime, everyone is hoping for the very best for Rachael as she goes through her ordeal and the support has been overwhelming.


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The Brass Bell Pub in Crofton, a business owned by Rachael Viala. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rachael Viala with husband Tim on the Crofton Seawalk. The community is hoping Rachael will pull through her current ordeal without serious long-term effects. (Photo by Rachael & Tim Viala)
Rachael Viala and husband Tim on their wedding day with baby Sawyer. (Photo by Lianne Brown)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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