Derhams farewell Whyalla | PHOTOS

Local business owners Barbara and Tom Derham have marked the end of an era with family, friends and colleagues at a special celebration at their beloved Foreshore Motor-Inn.

The Derhams are moving back to Adelaide after 54 years in Whyalla. It follows the sale of the motor-inn, which will be demolished to make way for the planned $100 million Foreshore Hotel.

The move will bring them closer to their children Paul and Jeff Derham, who both live in Adelaide, and will open up new career opportunities. The Derhams' other children, Mark Thomas and Leisa Wheatland, live in Perth and Melbourne.

Mrs Derham said it was tough to move away from Whyalla but felt that she would never truly move on from the steel city.

"We still own property here and we will be involved with the new hotel when it commences, that's a very exciting prospect," she said.

"The people of Whyalla are very fortunate to have a wonderful city to live in, the council have done an excellent job in all aspects of the city - the amenities are fantastic.

"There's a tear in my eye to know I'm closing my restaurant."

During her time in Whyalla's hospitality industry Ms Derham has ticked off plenty of "bucket list" items, such as catering for the Queen during her visit in 1986 and serving on the Whyalla City Council.

Besides the big moments, Mrs Derham has always valued being able to employ young people and mentor them on their career path in hospitality.

"I'm so honoured that the majority of them still keep in touch with me, they're all around the world and are now working in hotels and airlines," she said.

"I did have high standards in the restaurant and some people found that difficult to work with, but if you came on time and you had a smile on your face then you didn't have a problem with me."

The motor-inn is set to be demolished around mid-year, with the motel set to continue operating for the next couple of months.

At the farewell Ms Derham was presented with a chopping board featuring her beloved fig tree from the Whyalla Business and Tourism Group.

"They thanked Tom and I for our service to the city ... Tom is very quiet but he has achieved a lot, in the early days he helped build the pipeline and he had many years as Chairman of the Whyalla Hospital," she said.

While some are expecting Barbara to finally call time on her career and retire, she's not planning to take a break any time soon, declaring that "age is just a number".

"I'm going to spend some time with family and travel ... people have suggested I write a book so I'm thinking about that, and I've had five phone calls about standing on the Burnside Council," she said.

"Who knows what's around the corner."