A FAMILY with no hospitality experience who took on ownership of a Wanborough boozer have turned it into the highest-rated pub in the Swindon area.

Retired crime scene investigator Barbara Lockwood became co-owner of The New Calley Arms four years ago with her son Jon Beeden after he decided to fulfil a lifelong dream of becoming a chef.

Barbara said: “We thought it would be a piece of cake compared to what we dealt with before but it’s the been the hardest thing we’ve ever done. It’s non-stop, 24/7.

“The biggest challenge was going from working with agencies and other officers to a front-facing role working directly with the public. It can be tough but it’s also the best part of the job, I know the names of everyone who comes in here.

“We made a real effort to get this right and we’re really proud to have done so well.”

The pub used to have a food hygiene rating of one and languished around the 200-mark on Trip Advisor’s list of the best places to eat in Swindon. Food hygiene inspectors bumped their rating up to four after being impressed during a return visit last year and the pub is currently the highest-rated one in the Swindon area and the fourth best-rated eatery overall.

It also placed on the Adver’s 2018 list of the 10 best places to eat in Wiltshire.

Jon said: “I managed a shoe shop and my mum was retiring, then this came up out of the blue, we fell in love with the place and wanted to give it a go. The lifestyle change took some getting used to, we had no training and started from scratch.

“It was just a drinker’s pub so we introduced home-cooked food but still wanted to keep the drinkers happy and make it a great base for the community. Without the support of the locals, we wouldn’t be where we are now, they taught us a lot and got behind us.

“Working with family, there are a few arguments sometimes and it can be hard but we’re a good team.”