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Be the Early Robin - Book Now for an Inn Collection Group Christmas

Christmas party nights Northumberland Durham North Yorkshire Middlesbrough Cleveland

It may be the silly season with sun cream, shorts and sandals still uppermost in people’s minds.

But here at The Inn Collection Group the festive season is already upon us as our thoughts turn to Santa hats, party nights and turkey dinners.

If it seems a tad early to be talking about Christmas, think again.

Before you know it, December will have arrived, and if you haven’t got ahead of the game you could easily find yourself left out in the cold with nowhere to go for your office party, family get together or New Year’s Eve bash.

With the fantastic line-up of festive events on offer this year across our inns throughout Northumberland, County Durham and North Yorkshire, you’ll want to make sure you’re the early Robin that catches the worm.

Operations director Sean Donkin said: “While it may still be summer, now is the time to be thinking about the festive season to avoid the disappointment of losing out on the best Christmas party nights, festive meals and of course where to enjoy Christmas Lunch on the big day itself.

“We have our best ever line up this Christmas of entertainment acts and fantastic festive menus that you, your friends, family and work colleagues deserve at what is the most special time of the year.

“It's all too easy to put off booking with Christmas seeming so far in advance. But as our venues are such popular places to celebrate we recommend booking early to secure the venue and party occasion of your choice. Just drop in to one of our inns, give us a call, or send an email to christmas@inncollectiongroup.com, so we can make sure you Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas rather than a Silent Night.

“After all…it tis the season to be jolly!”

Full details of entertainment, menus and how to book is available on the Christmas pages of each of our inns.  

Mark brings an army of flavour to The Lindisfarne Inn

Pub food near Holy Island at The Lindisfarne Inn with talented chef Mark Bocking

He’s served in both Gulf wars, cooked for Royalty and the Prime Minister and served up high-end banquets to over 300 guests. 

Now talented Mark Bocking has joined The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal as their new head chef.

It was in the fiery heat of a desert kitchen that Royal Air Force veteran Mark began his kitchen career. He joined the RAF as a chef, and has served in jungle field kitchens in Belize, and fed over 3,000 personnel at a time in Mount Pleasant, an RAF station in the Falkland Islands, where the corridors from one end of the camp to another were over a mile long.

Former Prime Minister John Major dined on Mark's food at Chequers, while Princess Anne was the guest of honour at an RAF banquet where Mark was part of a right-royal kitchen-brigade.

Closer to home, Mark is widely regarded on the local food scene for his stellar cookery. He spent seven years as head chef at The Dunstanburgh Castle Hotel in Embleton and three years as sous chef at the acclaimed Treehouse Restaurant in Alnwick.

Now, he is looking forward to making the kitchen at the award-winning Lindisfarne Inn his own and adding his flair to the food offer there. 

Said Mark: “It is an exciting new chapter for me and a completely different challenge to what I have done before. I’m really looking forward to putting my own stamp on the menu here, which is a lot more technical elements and dishes with a bit of a twist like a chicken panacotta – it’s my version of a chicken and sweetcorn soup. 

“I love the fact the inn uses a lot of seafood – I’ll certainly be keeping that on the menu, but adding in my own touches.”

Mark confesses to having a sweet tooth. “I have always been a dessert person. I like making my own desserts like a chocolate parfait. Everything is homemade – the pastry, the sorbets. It’s how it should be.” 

Look out for Mark’s new menu coming soon to The Lindisfarne Inn, the nearest mainland inn to Holy Island.

The Kingslodge Inn visit is just the job for Hedley College students

A group of disabled young people have had their job-seeking prospects boosted thanks to Durham city pub, The Kingslodge Inn. 

Students from Hedley’s College, part of The Percy Hedley Foundation, were given an insider insight into the hospitality industry during a behind the scenes visit to the Flass Vale pub with rooms.  

The access-all-areas tour gave the 18-25-year-olds - who have multiple learning disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism - a chance to see how each section of The Kingslodge Inn operates, from housekeeping to check in and from front-of-house to the kitchen and to learn about the range of skills needed to work in the industry.

 The students enjoyed hands-on interaction, taste testing new dishes with sous chef Ashley Taylor and rolling up their sleeves to help prepare rooms with the housekeeping team during the visit organised by The Kingslodge Inn’s general manager, Leanne Jeffrey.

Leanne invited the students to The Kingslodge Inn, part of multi-award winning leisure operators The Inn Collection Group, after learning about the college’s work to help disabled young people boost their job prospects across the region. 

Leanne said: “I absolutely believe in helping young people who are keen and enthusiastic better their chances of entering into the workplace.

“I’m sure we can all remember a time when someone went out of their way to help us along our career journey and I felt it was important to do my bit to help such bright and motivated young people who refuse to be held back by their personal barriers.

“I was really struck by how confident and enthusiastic the students were. They would be an absolute asset in the workplace and we are looking at ways to work further with Percy Hedley to offer work experience and apprenticeships to students from the college.

“The hospitality industry is a particularly good area for disabled people as there are so many different paths you can go down, from housekeeping, to working in the kitchen, waiting, bar work, reception duties, and front of house. 

Dionne Smith is Employment Project Officer at The Percy Hedley Foundation. She works to help employers become more disability confident and organise work placements, visits and workshops to break down any barriers for students and employers. 

She said: “Leanne was really keen to get the students involved. We thought we would start with the visit and then look at the possibility of placements that can be specially tailored for our students. 

“The students were all really keen to find out what roles there were in the pub and its rooms and how they could get involved. 

“All the students approached the visit positively and responded really well. I hope going forward we can build closer ties with The Kingslodge Inn and The Inn Collection Group. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to develop a deeper relation and help bridge the gap for young people with additional needs to go from full-time education into employment.” 

For Curtis Curry, 20, who has Achondroplasia, a form of Dwarfism of the spine, The Kingslodge Inn visit was a course highlight and confirmed he wants to pursue a career in the hospitality sector.

He said: “I loved how big the kitchen was and I like making the food and getting to look round the bedrooms and seeing how big they were. I loved having a turn pushing the trolley and getting the bed linen. I want to get a job here!”

Celebrated head chef Kelvin joins The Hog's Head Inn's award winning team

Top chef Kelvin Gallaugher has joined The Hog's Head Inn's award winning pub food in Alnwick team

Renowned chef Kelvin Gallaugher has joined the award-winning team at The Hog’s Head Inn in Alnwick.  

Kelvin, whose name is synonymous with outstanding food, has a smorgasbord of gastronomic credentials including The Treehouse in Alnwick, The Mizen Head and Victoria Hotel in Bamburgh and high-end hotel and wedding venue, Newton Hall.

Kelvin cut his culinary teeth at the Collingwood Arms, where he realised he wanted to carve out a career in the kitchen. Encouraged by the head chef, who spotted Kelvin’s talent, he moved to London to hone his cheffing skills, working in top London restaurants including the hip Atlantic Bar & Grill, frequented by the likes of Madonna, Jack Nicholson, Robert de Niro and Kate Moss.

He has rubbed shoulders in the kitchen with some of the leading stars in British cookery today including Jason Atherton, Mark Sargeant and award-winning baker, Dan Lepard.

But after five years of London living, a trip home to his native Northumberland persuaded Kelvin to swap the cement and glass of city life for the beaches and castles of England’s most northerly county.

Father-of-two Kelvin is excited to be taking the helm of The Hog’s Head Inn kitchen.

He said: “'It's been a while since I've worked in a pub type operation and certainly never in a pub of the size of The Hog's Head Inn, but I'm relishing the challenge and look forward to the chance for more people to sample my cooking.

"The Inn Collection Group, who own The Hog’s Head Inn, who are a really progressive company. They give you the opportunity to have autonomy and put a personal stamp on things.

“There is a lovely atmosphere at The Hog’s Head Inn and I’m looking forward to working with the team in the kitchen to drive the food offer here.

“I thrive in the kitchen and enjoy teaching people as well. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some amazingly talented chefs and learnt a lot of techniques from them. Now, I have the opportunity to pass my knowledge and skills on to the kitchen team here to further both my own and their careers."

Kelvin will be bringing in a new menu to The Hog’s Head Inn which he describes as being ‘pub food and a little bit more’.

“I don’t have a particular cooking style as such. I just enjoy cooking and like people to enjoy what I make. I want people to be able to eat their way around the world in one building – a one stop eating house, if you like, where someone can come in for fish and chips, but someone else in the party can have a decent curry.

“We will always do the pub classics because that’s the backbone of the business, but there will be some different things. When people have confidence in your cooking style they are happy to give something they normally wouldn’t have a try. I want people to try new things.”

A sneak preview of those ‘new things’ includes Korean Pork Stir Fry and Chilli Fried Squid with Asian Slaw and a Piri Piri Spiced Chicken Burger.

An advocate of local produce, Kelvin is looking forward to bringing more local flavours and producers to the table.

“I like trying to use as much locally sourced produce as possible. I’m a big believer in using local stuff where possible and that’s something I want to be able to do here and we’re looking at bringing in more local dairy produce, game – when in season and local fish.”