Friday, 06 December 2019

New pub landlord finally fulfils childhood ambition

New pub landlord finally fulfils childhood ambition

THE new landlord of the Horns in Crazies Hill says he is fulfilling a childhood ambition by running the pub.

Richard Chapman has taken over from Sandra Bernard, who stepped down last month after four years at the Brakspear pub.

Mr Chapman, 55, grew up in North Yorkshire, where his parents ran a hotel, and gained a diploma in hotel and catering from Ealing College.

However, he then spent more than 30 years working in sales, marketing and general management for a range of businesses.

Now he has returned to the hospitality industry at the Horns, where he has been joined by his children Sam, 22, an actor and singer, and Ellie, 21, and Ellie’s partner Liam Druce as well as the family dog Gunnar.

Mr Chapman said: “I grew up in the hospitality industry. My grandad and dad were landlords but I decided to leave and go into commercial business rather than follow in the hotel trade.

“The reason I came to take over at the Horns was that my wife and I separated and I became financially and personally independent.

“I was living with my daughter in Henley and she said, ‘Remember that dream you had when you were 12 years old of running a country pub? Why not do it?’”

Mr Chapman looked on the Brakspear website for vacant businesses but it was several weeks until the Horns became available.

He said: “When I saw a picture of it I immediately fell in love with it. I knew that’s where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”

Mr Chapman has introduced a new menu with the help of the pub’s chef Dan Holloway, who was a finalist in the Young Chef of the Year awards last year.

He has been joined by James Smith, who is on a cookery course at Reading College and will work at the pub on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Mr Chapman said: “We have had Daniel here for three years and he has built up a fantastic reputation but he has been doing it all on his own.”

He has replaced an old play fort in the garden with artificial turf and games including giant Jenga and Connect Four. He has also created another play area with football goal posts as well as a dedicated dog area.

Mr Druce, a carpenter, will help out in his spare time refurbishing the garden furniture and helping to lay out the new areas.

Mr Chapman said: “In the summer months families and dog owners can come to the Horns and enjoy lunch while their children are entertained in two secure play areas and dogs can be let off their leads in the dog park.”

A piano has also been installed inside the pub as Ellie is an accomplished musician. She used to work at estate agent David Tate in Henley before deciding to join her father at the pub.

The Horns is well-known locally for hosting social events and Mr Chapman says he is keen to keep that tradition going.

His first event will be on Easter Monday, when he will hold a barbecue and a jazz band will perform.

He will also hold events for parents and children from Crazies Hill Primary School on the first Friday of every month. The “Crazy Mums” event will run from 2pm to 3.30pm with tea and coffee followed by an after-school club for youngsters from 3.45pm to 6pm, where food will be cooked by Mr Smith.

Mr Chapman said: “I’m hoping the locals have taken to me and my family. We’ve already had a few impromptu singalongs on the piano and we will be introducing live music nights every other Wednesday, starting in May. We are seeing a lot of new faces and that’s good.”

Ms Bernard took over at the pub in 2015 after moving to Crazies Hill from Lancashire. She became the seventh tenant in as many years after John and Sarah Schlaefli left the business after just 18 months in charge.

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