Family unit brings pub back to life

Basingstoke Gazette: Mark Thornhill and his wife Penny and daughter Amelia who have taken over the Rockingham Arms Mark Thornhill and his wife Penny and daughter Amelia who have taken over the Rockingham Arms

NEW Forest pub has reopened more than a year since the last pint was pulled.

The Thornhill family have been brought in by Hampshire-based brewers – the Upham Group, to run the newly refurbished Rockingham Arms in West Wellow.

Former police officer Mark Thornhill, his wife Penny and the couple’s daughter Amelia previous ran the Cricketers at Hartley Wintney near Basingstoke and before that managed the Bell at Fetcham in Surrey.

Before that the family managed restaurants n Florida.

Looking forward to the new challenge 47-year-old Mark said: “I have been in the pub trade for five years and the food and beverage for some time longer. We’ve worked together well as a family and pubs gave us the opportunity to continue as a collective so to speak.”

His daughter Amelia is the current holder of the Rising Star Hospitality Award which was bestowed on her by the Academy of Food and Wine with Virgin Limited Edition.

“It’s great here and I am happy to be part of the family team,” said 23-year-old Amelia.

The family have taken on 12 members of staff including head chef, Brian Ahearn, who has worked at award-winning eateries including the Thomas Cubitt in London’s Belgravia and the Woolpack Inn in Alresford.

Besides its main restaurant, the Rockingham Arms has more dining facilities in the pub’s Cabin Room, at the back of the premises, which seats up to 40.

Upham say they consulted local people about what they wanted at the pub.

Group chief executive Chris Phillips said: “ This pub has every ingredient it needs to realise that vision with an idyllic location, wonderfully passionate local support and the stewardship of the Thornhill family whose experience of creating outstanding pubs is second to none.

We are thrilled with results of the renovation and hope that the Rockingham Arms will serve the local community and the swathes of visitors to the area for centuries to come.”

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