The Thorold is an award-winning, community-owned pub, restaurant, shop, B&B, and cafe situated in the small rural village of Marston, Lincolnshire. The pub is owned and managed by Thorold Arms Community Benefit Society on behalf of the community, which raised £210,000 through community shares to buy and renovate the pub in 2019 after a three-year campaign to reopen the pub as a community hub after
it had closed in 2015.
In an area where the resident population is predominantly older – with double the national average number of people over 50 – the pub offers a range of social inclusion activities, including an IT support group, a book club, and a venue space for other local support groups. They also
serve drinks and refreshments, and have a small shop selling everyday essentials and locally sourced produce. In addition, an outreach Post Office opens in the pub every Wednesday morning, alongside a popular coffee morning.
The Thorold offers vital opportunities for local young people to volunteer, gain paid experience, and explore careers in the hospitality sector. Sandra Allen, secretary of Thorold Arms CBS, explains their approach to working with young people: “It’s quite a stable local community. Most of our young people live in the villages. Children who came to the pub when they were tiny are now coming back again as workers. What’s great about working with local young people is their sense of freshness and enthusiasm – they are always keen to try things out, and find ways of working better. They aren’t looking to do this work long-term, but it’s giving them important professional skills, and part of our service to our community is giving young locals these opportunities.”
Ed Faulkner, aged 24, was appointed as the general manager in 2020. He grew up seeing his parents work in the hospitality sector and, after finishing his education, he worked in management roles at a local hotel and golf club before picking up the reins at the Thorold. Ed was instrumental to the Thorold’s transformation from a standard pub into a broader community space. He overhauled the menu, ensuring that food was locally sourced, installed a new pizza oven, and spearheaded a lively social and events programme.
“My first job at The Thorold was as Barman, before I was approached to apply for the Food & Beverage Manager post. Although local, I didn’t realise the impact of working as the General Manager would have on my life, and how much it would grow my professional skills. I’m proud of my team’s hard work, and how the pub is becoming an increasingly important part of the community.”
Ed is responsible for a staff team of 13 – the deputy manager, four kitchen staff and nine front of house staff – and between 10 to 15 volunteers at any one time. He has a young staff team, and just over 50 per cent are under the age of 35. As someone who has worked through the ranks in the hospitality sector himself, Ed is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to influence the running of the pub, learn and develop their skills, and better understand the wider industry.
“It means new ideas are flowing all the time. It’s really good for their development because they get to see what a career in hospitality is like, they gain insights into buying and selling in the industry, and get to see that there’s loads more to it than just pulling a pint. It gives them confidence and really helps them later on in life. We’re building them up as people.”
Ed and the team are excited to be running at full capacity again following the worst of the pandemic, and are focused on developing the pub’s growing roster of social activities and events for the community, including live entertainment, themed nights, coffee mornings and support groups. Thanks to their efforts, the pub has a growing reputation for quality food and drink – it received a Restaurant Guru award in both 2020 and 2021, as well as a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award in 2021.