As we approach International Women's Day on Sunday, we've been celebrating a couple of the inspirational female licensees in our industry.

Kathleen Howard runs the Dickens Bar & Inn in Scarborough. She took over six years ago and fought for two years to get money to refurbish the pub and bring it back to life. Eventually Punch Pubs agreed to fund £500,000 to transform the pub.

Kathleen, 38, is a single mum and took over the pub when her son was just one-year-old.

"I was a travel agent for 15 years. My mum and dad had been running the pub and they needed to breath some new life into it. They asked me if I wanted to take it on board.

"I hadn't been in the industry before but I put a business plan together and I presented it to Punch."

 

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Eventually, Kathleen got the go ahead and the pub underwent a huge refurbishment.

"I came into this industry with no money behind me but I wanted to save the business. A lot of people's livelihoods depended on this pub surviving. I felt I had a huge responsibility on my shoulders.

"I never thought I would be sat here today. There were many times that I was at breaking point.

"But there have been lots of achievements and lots of things happening."

The pub is now owned by Heineken's Star Pubs & Bars. Last year it won the award for Best Live Sports Venue at the Star Pubs and Bars Awards.

Meanwhile, Jemma Yeowart runs the Oliver Cromwell pub in St Ives, Cambridgeshire with her partner and chef Joey Ovenden. The pair had spent many years travelling around and living in different places and they finally decided to settle down and tackle running a pub.

They were at the helm of a different pub for a year and a half before the opportunity arose to run the Oliver Cromwell in their home town. They took over in December last year.

Jemma said: "We found out that our local pub was available and we went for it.

"It's a real drinkers pub. It's the only pub in town that has stood the test of time. It's been really good to have our social life back and it's really nice to be around family and friends.

 

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"We have been living out of a suitcase for eight years so we were ready to unpack and settle down. It's a good challenge. This pub came at the right time."