From cabin crew to pub manager - woman's new lockdown chapter
- Credit: Abigail Nicholson
"I want to bring it back to the community pub everybody remembers."
That's the pledge from Abbi King, who took over as manager of The Gemini Pub on Sandy Lane in Dereham at the end of March - at the start of a tumultuous few months.
After taking over the business, Miss King was unable to open the pub's doors due to the national coronavirus lockdown.
The opening date was further pushed back as the pub's owner, Greene King, perfected its Covid measures including one-way systems, sanitising stations and table service options.
"I had already been working at the Compleat Angler in Norwich when the opportunity to become a manager at The Gemini came up," Miss King said.
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"It was tough because I couldn't open straight away and let people know who I was and what I'm all about, but I got to work within the pub right away.
"We kept everybody updated on social media and ran virtual pub quizzes to keep spirits up.
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"I was so happy when the doors finally opened."
Before working in pubs, Miss King, who was born in Wolverhampton, was living in London and working for British Airways (BA) as a cabin crew member, but decided to leave the company as she wanted more stability.
Now, she has vowed to customers that she is in it for the long haul and has no plans to go anywhere.
Miss King said: "If you asked me when I was five what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said a barmaid.
"I have always known exactly what I wanted to do and it just came to a point where I wanted some more stability in my life and I left BA. I've always preferred pubs to planes.
"I'm also closer to my family now as they live in East Anglia."
Miss King is now on a mission is to turn the watering hole back into the community pub Dereham remembers.
During December The Gemini will be holding festive markets for Dereham businesses, offering children the chance to have a magical breakfast with Santa while also raising money for Macmillan.
For more information about the pub, search The Gemini Dereham on Facebook.