A CHILDHOOD dream has become a reality more than four decades later for a Tamworth woman, who is now the proud owner of a charismatic country pub.
Leanne Summers and husband Mark took over the Bendemeer Hotel earlier this year, and have already spruced up the menu, put on three new local staff, booked in entertainment and are nurturing a luscious garden.
"The hotel here has got so much history; it's been the heart of the Bendemeer community for generations," Mrs Summers said.
"I love people, I love food, I love wine and this is what I've always wanted to do.
"We're really falling in love with the hotel and everybody has been so supportive and welcoming."
The couple moved up the hill from Tamworth to run the joint, which they are hoping to transform into a destination for day-trippers and holiday-makers.
"We put out a new menu focused on good old fashioned country hospitality, straight-forward cooking," she said.
"I suppose it's about creating that real destination venue and promoting the accommodation and the food of course, and presenting the whole venue and the grounds and the gardens."
Mrs Summers told the Leader she has wanted to own a country pub since she was 15 years old.
Forty years might have passed, but it was a dream she never lost sight of.
Despite the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tamworth couple couldn't pass up on the opportunity to run the Bendemeer Pub and officially took over in February this year.
"It was a bit surreal at first, it's what Mark and I had been working towards for many years ... we've raised our two kids and we were in a position where we could start a new chapter," she said.
We're really falling in love with the hotel and everybody has been so supportive and welcoming.Leanne Summers
The Summers have enjoyed their first few weeks on the job, and said they now have a strong team of 10 local staff.
"They are passionate about their roles and jobs and put their heart into it," Mrs Summers said.
"Mark and I are really enjoying it ... the whole lot of us work as a team."
And, not only have the Summers taken over the pub - they also have two hectares of riverside land, a converted garage for motorbike groups and in a unique twist, an attached bowling club.
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