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Community rallies around pub manager told to leave business after 10 years

PUBLISHED: 09:23 26 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:23 26 July 2018

Customers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Customers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

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A community has rallied around a popular pub manager after she was told to leave the business.

Customers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie SmithCustomers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

Vicky Evans-Malo, manager of The Bull in Dereham, was phoned on Monday by Greene King to be told she would be moved to another pub.

The mother-of-two has managed the Dereham High Street pub for more than 10 years, but now faces being forced to uproot her young family and abandon her business to start again.

Jo Tomlin, a senior healthcare assistant said: “I have known Vicky for a long time.

“From what I can gather they told her there were eight pubs going out to the pub partnerships and hers was one, and that was the first she knew. No one seems to know what time frame we are looking at.

Customers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie SmithCustomers and friends of Vicky Evans-Melo, manager of The Bull in Dereham turn out in support. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

“Vicky unfortunately then collapsed because that’s her home and her life, her everything.

“That place is just her life and she’s put her heart and soul into it.

“She is successful and popular with a good team behind her. I think Greene King have treated her disgustingly.”

A spokesman for Greene King said: “The Bull in Dereham will remain a Greene King pub, however we have decided to transfer it from our managed estate to a tenanted model within our Pub Partners division, meaning the pub is run day-to-day by an independent and entrepreneurial operator looking to run their own business.

“This was a difficult decision because we appreciate the impact it has on our team currently at The Bull.

“We are in the process of finding a suitable alternative pub in our managed estate for our general manager and the remainder of the team will remain at the pub but transfer to their new employer.”

Paul Sandford, landlord of Dereham pub The Railway Tavern said: “They have treated her abysmally. I think in this case they have bitten off more than they can chew because Vicky is such a well loved person.

“It’s how big business works but it’s not fair on her. Without her being there the pub probably wouldn’t be here. Vicky’s got it to the point where it’s as good as it’s ever been.

“I for one of many independent landlords will never stock a Greene King product while they treat people like this. I urge people to make a complaint to Greene King.”

Kurt Oliver, of Metro nightclub in Dereham and chairman of the local pubwatch, said: “I just think it’s despicable that a major corporation can allow an employee to build up a business so much and then sell it for a profit.

“Vicky is a really important part of the night time economy.”

Kevin Ottaway, a customer suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), said: “I think what Greene King are doing is well out of order.

“When I was unwell they paid for me and the wonderful staff always check I’m ok. I wouldn’t go to any other pub.”

Donna Browne, business owner, said: “I’ve known Vicky for 17 years. She is The Bull. Everybody adores her and respects her and she respects them.

“It’s a family unit and she’s absolutely devastated.

“I hate going into places on my own but you’re made to feel welcome in The Bull.

“If they take this place away from her it’s going to go downhill, it’s not going to be The Bull anymore. Without her it’s going to be nothing.”

Chantal Browne left her position at The Bull earlier this year to pursue a career as a hair stylist.

She said: “Vicky took me on after I had my son and I worked there for three years.

“She put me on courses to train me up and she helped me with my second degree. Vicky was my boss but she became one of my best friends.

“I think if Vicky goes half the staff will go. I don’t understand why she can’t stay here. I just think it’s such a shame.

“If she goes we won’t come in here anymore. It’s heart breaking really. I really hope she doesn’t leave the pub because it’s her life.”

Peter Littleton said: “I do Santa for The Bull at Christmas and they are wonderful people.

“This has infuriated me. You don’t do that to people, especially with young children.”

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