Landlord, 19, takes charge of pub

MOST 19-year-olds can only dream of running their own business and employing a dozen staff.

David Green

MOST 19-year-olds can only dream of running their own business and employing a dozen staff.

But for Tom Parkhurst it has become a reality after he took over as licensee at one of Britain's oldest pubs - the 12th century Four Horseshoes at Thornham, near Eye.

His parents, Mark and Marion Parkhurst, who lived at neighbouring Mellis for ten years, helped him to buy the lease of the property and are assisting in its management.

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Tom, a former pupil at Hartismere High School, Eye, worked part-time for the previous owners, Harry and Di Leslie, before deciding to go to City College in Norwich to learn retail management.

However, the plan was revised when Mr and Mrs Leslie offered to employ him full-time while he learned the trade and obtained his qualifications.

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In the meantime, Mr and Mrs Parkhurst went to live in Spain - intending to make a life out there - but when they heard that the lease of the Four Horseshoes - their former “local” - was up for sale the family decided to buy it.

It took ten months for the sale to go through and now Tom is in overall control of the business.

Mrs Parkhurst said the pub and restaurant business at Thornham had seemed like a great opportunity for their son and the family had been delighted to help him make a start to his business career. “We just do what we're told,” she added.

Tom, who obtained his retail management qualifications through Otley College, near Ipswich, said: “I set myself a target to at least be the manager of a pub by the time I was 20. I certainly never expected to be running my own pub at this age and I am very proud.”

As well as mum and dad, the workforce at the Four Horseshoes comprises 12 full and part-time employees.

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