Pub’s dream team back behind the bar

THEY'RE BACK: Head chef Jackie Sowden with sisters Amy Williams and Kimberley Senior at The Alma. (d30121101)
THEY'RE BACK: Head chef Jackie Sowden with sisters Amy Williams and Kimberley Senior at The Alma. (d30121101)

DRINKERS have been getting used to seeing a few familiar faces behind the bar of their local pub.

Amy Williams, 27, has returned to The Alma in Thornhill to manage the pub where she first started working as a waitress aged 14.

Not only that, but she’s brought back Jackie Sowden as head chef, giving long-time regulars a blast from the past.

Amy and Jackie first worked together at The Alma 13 years ago, first under landlord Neil Fahey and then Frank Healy.

They have worked in pubs and restaurants across West Yorkshire since, but are now back at the place where their friendship began.

Amy said: “When the opportunity came to come back to The Alma I jumped at the chance and asked Jackie to come back with me.”

After recruiting her sister, Kimberley Senior – who worked at the pub when she was younger too – as assistant manager, the pub’s dream team was complete.

The trio set about refurbishing the pub’s restaurant, toilets and guest rooms, and business has picked up as former regulars started coming back.

“Customers like to know the people behind the bar, especially in a village like Thornhill,” Amy said.

“They want to know who you are, where your dad worked, where you worked last. When we first worked at The Alma, we worked with some fabulous people and had good customers.”

Jackie added: “They’re all coming back, which is nice, after a long time of not coming in.”

The team at The Alma wants the pub in The Combs to be at the heart of the community by working with local schools and sports clubs.

Jackie said: “We’ve got some really nice customers in here that can’t do enough for you, but that’s what they get from us when they come in. It’s like a community.”

And despite doom and gloom in the pub trade, Amy is confident about the future.

“There’s no reason why this pub shouldn’t work,” she said. “We have had a lot of support from friends, family and local businesses.”

Jackie added: “Someone said to me, ‘If you three can’t make this pub work, then no one can’.”