As a 16-year-old aspiring chef, Pamela Coleman worked her first shift in the hospitality industry, fast forward four decades and she’s now celebrating her 30th year at the helm of her beloved village pub.
The White Horse in the village of Trowse, is a popular drinking spot on the southern edge of Norwich just a mile and a half from the city centre. Known locally for it’s beautiful floral displays and delicious food offerings, there’s no question that The White Horse sits at the heart of the community.
Publican Pamela and her husband Andy, first moved in on the 5th of October 1993, the adored couple have since raised their family, tackled challenges head-on and have zero desire to give up the industry that they are both so passionate about.
Talking of her instant love for hospitality, Pam said: “When I was 16 years old, I was training to be a chef and I’d taken on a part time job in a private drinking club, I felt an instant love for the industry went home that evening and immediately told my parents that I wanted my own pub.
“Of course, initially they laughed at me, it wasn’t traditional back then for a woman to run a pub, but I went for it anyway!”
Fast forward to the age of 23, and having worked for a popular Norwich landlady, Pam began to run her very first pub. In a twist of events and following the birth of her first child, she then found herself working in the function room of The White Horse, which was then a transformed office space, before taking the plunge and applying for its tenancy.
“Some of the best memories I’ve made have been inside this pub, it can be difficult and at times it’s been tough, but the good will always outweigh the bad,” Pamela said. “Take lockdown for example, one of the hardest battles our industry has faced, but we made the most of what he had, we turned the function room into a mini supermarket and the outdoor area into a garden centre, it was a great way of giving back to the community and trying to keep the spirit up.”
Not being able to see the locals go without, when the village shop closed in lockdown, Pam and husband Andy set up their own temporary shop, selling fresh fruit and vegetables from local suppliers as well as packet foods and cupboard essentials. They even hooked up to an app which allowed them to order bread, pastries, and meats for the local community.
Having gained a new following throughout lockdown, Pam and Andy were delighted to see new faces once the White Horse reopened and were overjoyed to feel like their pub had become the heart of the community.
Although she’s worked every role in the industry, Pam’s passion lies in the cooking which is why their village pub boasts a tempting menu of dishes from spicy nachos and Atlantic prawn cocktail to their 6oz gourmet burger and loaded dirty fries, not forgetting their Thursday curry night and traditional Sunday roasts.
“My advice to others starting in the industry is that you’ve got to love hard work,” Pam explained. “No two days are the same, but the hard work is worth it. We’re a family here in the village and that’s how it becomes, I’m not ready to go anywhere yet, even after 30 years, I still couldn’t walk away.”
Further marking the momentous occasion is Punch Pubs & Co Operations Manager, Charlie Ashwell, who said: “Pam is a credit to this wonderful community pub and our industry. Her hard work and commitment is appreciated by us all at Punch Pubs and by her loyal customers. She is one of the most genuine people I have ever worked with and thoroughly deserves her success. I am delighted that she has reached this significant milestone of 30 years!”
In honouring her long service, Pamela celebrated with her regulars, members of the community, and family earlier this month, where everyone raised a glass to celebrate their favourite Landlady.