Fresh faced Linny Simpson would not be shocked if she was asked for identification to buy a drink - but is now running her own pub.
The 22-year-old is believed to be the youngest female licensee in Northumberland - if not the UK.
Linny has also employed renowned North East Chef of the Year, Hungarian Gabor Pusztai– in order to put The Pack Horse Inn at Ellingham in North Northumberland well and truly on the map for fabulous food.
Linny and Gabor are now coping with guest breakfasts from early in the morning to gourmet dining late at night – as well as serving lots of beer and wine to locals and visitors in between.
Within six months of taking over The Pack Horse, Linny has transformed and revamped the old inn, believed to date from the 17th Century, into a coastal Northumberland hot spot for good cheer, relaxed atmosphere, roaring fires and great food and drink.
While carefully retaining the original atmosphere, a light, comfortable dining area have been created, the garden has been attractively landscaped for open air socialising, a new flagged floor has been laid in the bar – and five ensuite rooms are now attracting guests from all over the UK.
It’s been a baptism of fire for Linny, who just left York University with a BSc in Accounting, Business and Finance last summer. She had always wanted to work in hospitality but had never imagined the opportunity would arise so quickly – or the work would be so demanding!
“It’s like a dream come true for me running my own pub,” she said, “But being in charge really forces you to learn the ropes very quickly and it’s been a steep learning curve. On many occasions I can be clearing fires and scrubbing cookers at midnight and then have to be up at 5.30am to cook breakfasts for cyclers, walkers or shooters who need an early start. It’s certainly a far cry from university – but I’m loving it so far.”
Landlady Linny is keen to make the Pack Horse Inn a popular meal stop for people visiting the area for the day. She said: “Our chef creates a delicious and varied menu of freshly prepared food every day - and it’s all very reasonably priced – for example our starters and mains range from £4.50 to around £14.00. All our food is locally sourced wherever possible and we also have a vegetable garden at the Pack Horse where we’re growing our own produce for the kitchen.”
Linny says coastal Northumberland this year seems to be attracting lots of new people who have never visited the region before. “We’ve had three lots of guests so far from the South who had been to Scotland but never stopped off in Northumberland until this year and now they’re absolutely hooked”, she said. “Families love the huge beaches as well as the castles, history, walking and wildlife. The Pack Horse is a relaxed pub which is dog friendly and I think people like that they don’t need to get too dressed up when they come here for a meal and can just enjoy the great food, drink and log fires.”
Linny is a former pupil at the Duchess High School, Alnwick and grew up in Ellingham, where her parents farm.
After applying and obtaining her B11 Award for Personal Licence Holders certificate (APLH) and taking the statutory day’s training course, Linny became licensee of the Pack Horse Inn in November 2013.
“My aim is to make The Pack Horse Inn one of the best pubs in Northumberland for good food and a great, friendly atmosphere” says Linny.
With Northumberland visitors up 20% compared to last year so far and armed with her new chef, business acumen and flair for interior design, Linny’s dream may well become a reality.
For more information on The Pack Horse Inn, go to www.packhorseinn-ellingham.co.uk or call 01665 589292.