PICTURE CAPTION: From the left, Andy Lock, John Colclough and Phoebe Hitchins

A Kenilworth pub has hired its first apprentice as it looks to encourage more young people to pursue careers in hospitality following the pandemic.

The Famous Virgins & Castle on the old High Street has signed up Phoebe Hitchins, aged 19 from Coventry, as the 16th century pub’s first apprentice.

The pub, which is run by award-winning hospitality group Caviar & Chips, has worked closely with the apprenticeships team at WCG to create the opportunity.

Phoebe’s role is one of three apprenticeship positions at the pub that will be filled over the next couple of months, with roles also available front-of-house and in the kitchen.

The Famous Virgins & Castle plans to continue working with WCG to recruit more apprentices in the near future.

Phoebe studied a three-year business course at Royal Leamington Spa College, which is part of WCG, before securing the apprenticeship with Caviar & Chips.

She said: “I’m hoping to develop my knowledge of the hospitality industry and all it entails during my apprenticeship.

“My experience so far has been great. I was welcomed in with open arms and it has been amazing for me.

“I chose the apprenticeship because it gave me a great opportunity to develop and learn what it truly takes to manage a pub in the modern hospitality world.”

Andy Lock, General Manager at The Famous Virgins & Castle, added: “It’s important to keep bringing young people into hospitality and show them that it’s an exciting industry to be involved in.

“We want to create great opportunities for young people and reverse the reputation of hospitality work being long, unsociable hours with sometimes challenging working relationships.

“Apprentices bring energy, enthusiasm and ideas, which is great for the business. Phoebe is already bringing new ideas to us and widening our outlook on how we should be doing certain things.

“We’ve had a great working relationship with WCG to reach this point, despite the delays that came due to the pandemic, and we look forward to doing more apprenticeships with them in the future.

“It’s easy to get stale and set in your ways in hospitality and bringing apprentices into your team is one way to avoid that happening, whilst also providing a great opportunity for a young person to learn crucial trade and social skills to support them in the future.”

John Colclough, Business Development Manager at WCG, added: “Caviar & Chips has a refreshing approach to hospitality and that is reflected in its drive to recruit apprentices at The Famous Virgins & Castle.

“It’s vital that more young people are encouraged to join the hospitality profession to secure its future, and this has never been more the case than now in the wake of the pandemic which heavily impacted the sector.”