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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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West Cumbrian hoteliers celebrate 10 years at popular country house

A family who had no previous experience running a hotel are celebrating their 10-year anniversary at a popular Lorton country house.

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TEN YEARS ON: The Lawler family at Winder Hall, Lorton, from left: Nick, Ann, Cameron, Eloise and Rosie Blue Skye

Nick Lawler, 44, was an NHS manager in West Yorkshire when he gave it up to pursue his dream of owning a hotel in the countryside.

He bought the historic Winder Hall Country House Hotel at Lorton, and lives there with wife Ann, 45, and children Eloise, 13, Cameron, 12, and Rosie, six.

Nick has expanded the hotel by developing the restaurant side of the business, hosting marriage ceremonies and doing outside catering.

Eloise has also started to help out occasionally by helping to serve breakfast.

Nick is well known in Cumbria for his talents as a chef but discovering his passion for cooking happened by accident.

With Ann continuing to work as a consultant anaesthetist, it was down to Nick to take on the cooking in the restaurant.

He said: “I had only cooked three times in my life. It wasn’t exactly a life-long hobby.

“I used my last two weeks annual leave in the NHS to do a course at Prue Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London. It gave me a grounding in the basics.

“I was the only student taking it really seriously. Nobody else had the sense of urgency and pressure.

“I went from a management job to all of a sudden being judged on my creativity every single night.”

Nick’s reputation has grown. He is heavily involved in the Taste Cumbria Festival held each year in Cockermouth and is also a business coach, regularly working with companies in North America as a speaker at conferences.

To celebrate the anniversary, the family went for a meal out at a local restaurant and are going off to India on holiday for a month in December.

Nick added: “Ten years on, I still love what I fell into almost by accident.”

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