A LANDLADY is celebrating 20 years at the helm of a successful pub and is fund-raising to also mark her 50th birthday.
Julie Mole took over the Shoulder of Mutton, in Chapel Street, Oakthorpe, in 1993 after it had been standing empty for a year and is set to hold a joint celebration with a fund-raising beer festival and music event for Midlands Air Ambulance.
Miss Mole questioned her previous career as a lorry driver after two friends suggested she should take over the pub at a time when the local pits across nearby South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire were closing.
In 20 years, Miss Mole has built an extension to the pub and started serving food as well as giving the local jobs market a boost by employing more staff.
She said: “I was aged 29 and I was a lorry driver before being a landlady. Someone actually suggested to me to buy the pub and I didn’t think anything of it. Then someone else suggested it.
“I think they thought I’d be a good landlady as I am quite chatty. It is more about personality.
“I thought ‘do I really want to be a lorry driver when I am 40?’”
Two decades on, she believes the pub industry has come full circle.
“When I first started out it wasn’t much different to what it is now. The local pits were shutting, people were out of work, and there was a recession on so the first few years was a struggle.
“It seems to have come full circle now.
“In the time I have been here, it has been good, we have had some laughs.
“We have a darts team, pool teams. People come to the pub just to have a social.
“We started doing food about 10 years ago and I’ve had an extension built and it was hard because we had to pay for that.
“We now have two full-time staff, about eight part-time and two cleaners.
“It has gone that quick. I couldn’t even dream that 20 years have gone by.”
While, Julie will celebrate her birthday on Tuesday, she will hold the fund-raiser on September 1 from noon until late.
As well as a small beer festival featuring 10 different types of beers, there will also be musical entertainment from The Decade Runners, The Mod Story and a banjo player.