Sarah Ridley was a Newton & Ridley director who in January 1982 danced with a drunken Fred Gee at a brewery function. Fred thought Sarah liked him but according to Annie Walker she was relieved when she escaped his clutches.
The following June, Sarah and George Newton did spot checks on brewery pubs, including the Rovers. Fortunately, Annie was forewarned and gave Fred a day's holiday so he wouldn't show her up, but he turned up as a patron so he could ask Sarah out, only to be turned down. Annie had gone all out to impress the bosses, putting flowers on the bar, and was embarrassed when Sarah told her to get rid of them and to stick to her spit and sawdust trade.
Sarah was later involved in appointing a new manager when Annie stepped down as landlady. She supported Billy Walker when he was made licensee but Billy's heart wasn't in it and he cheated the brewery out of profit by serving cut-price supermarket ale. Sarah met with Billy and agreed for the brewery to buy him out, and then organised for Gordon Lewis, a former relief manager, to take over the Rovers. Gordon impressed Sarah and George with his ideas to modernise the Rovers, which Sarah readily admitted wasn't the most with-it establishment. She also interviewed Bet Lynch, who had been persuaded to lobby for the job to stop Gordon Lewis from taking it over as the staff and regulars didn't like him. Despite only having experience as a barmaid, Bet knew the regulars didn't want changes, and had popularity on her side as her friends had made a petition for her to get the job and sent it to the brewery. Deciding that the Rovers had seen enough changes, Sarah and George made Bet the landlady and Gordon was given the Dockers Arms.