A popular Stratton pub is now under new management after a long-serving staff member got promoted to the top job.

Jessica Coles has worked at the Rat Trap for 12 years and is now in charge of the Highworth Road hub with her partner Jordan Hicks.

They took over earlier this month after Marc and Claire Richardson told them in April about the couple’s decision to step down and enjoy retirement after 22 years as landlords.

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Jessica, 26, and Jordan, 30, are now serving up a new menu and hope to make the most of the Arkell’s property’s facilities more often but will otherwise keep things just the same as before, with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach.

Jessica said: “This pub has been a big part of my life. I started washing pots and collecting glasses, then waitressing, then working behind the bar, and I’d often said I wanted to run a pub one day, so this has been brilliant.

“I already knew a lot of the familiar faces and things work well as they are, people like it as it is, so we’ll mostly keep it that way.

“It’s a lot more responsibility but I’m really enjoying it. This is a great community pub with something for everyone – a sports bar, a restaurant, a function room, it has a little bit of everything.

“Marc and Claire put in a good service, taught us well, and are always on the end of the phone if I need advice.

“We want to continue the legacy they created and we still have a great relationship with them.

“They were like an extra set of parents and every member of staff feels like family.”

Jessica’s brother is the chef, his girlfriend is working as a barmaid, her mum is helping in the kitchen, and her dad works for Arkell’s, so the business is indeed a real family affair.

Co-manager Jordan said: “I met Jessica here at the Rat Trap – Marc introduced us – and that’s how we ended up together.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, it’s all completely new to me, but I’ll give it a go.

“There’s a bit of a learning curve and some pressure, especially when pouring a pint as Jessica does it perfectly, but we’ve had a lot of support, especially from the regulars.”

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