ON Monday May 17th, the Government will finally allow England’s pub doors to be thrown open to a flood of folk who have been yearning for the first chance to drink and dine inside.

For The Fleece in Addingham, one of Wharfdale’s most popular destinations, May 17th also means that the enthusiastic team of bar staff, waiters, chefs and managers can finally start looking after their guests. Despite all the hours of training, not being able to fully ply their craft and show off their skills has been enormously frustrating – not least for the new manager of The Fleece, Hywel Morris, who used to run The Fox in Menston.

His new team of 30 are champing at the bit to get going and help get the buzz back into the village. Hywel said: “I’ve always dreamt of managing The Fleece. It’s in an historic village, famous for its wool heritage with an especially supportive community. Having lived locally since I was 11, it’s been one of my favourite haunts for years - I love seeing friends and families here, many of whom are people I’ve known for much of my life, relaxing over food and drinks. The Fleece always had a great reputation for serving good food and being attentive to guests’ needs. That reputation means we’ve been lucky enough to be able to attract some really good people to join our team, including my deputy Andrew Pye and our new Head Chef, Halifax born, Will Bonfield.”

The great American TV Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain once said: “Food is everything we are. It's an extension of your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go.”

No words ring truer for Will whose Grandma lives in Addingham and was the person who inspired him to love cooking and to get into the hospitality profession. “I used to stay with my grandparents who farmed at Bolton Abbey and the very first dish I helped her cook, at just four and a half years old, were some lamb cutlets. I was at her side as she explained how and what to do. It sounds nonsense, but that night I wrote a card to Mum and Dad who were on holiday, telling them what I had been doing, and how much I’d enjoyed cooking. My Gran, who is now 93, retired to Addingham and following over a year of shielding, I’m hoping she will be strong enough to come and give my dishes her seal of approval. I really want her to visit The Fleece again, which she’s known all her life.”

As you might expect with that farming heritage, Will has a natural affinity for cooking with locally produced ingredients from trusted sources, backed by a wealth of experience, both as a Head Chef, and as a restaurant manager. Will has worked for some of the top restaurants in the UK and overseas, including Michelin starred chefs Marcus Wareing, Tom Aikens and Dominic Robinson and at The Box Tree in Ilkley.

Hywel is thrilled by the positive reaction from regulars who have been enquiring about the menu and making bookings. He said: “Guests can expect the return of their old favourites. In our traditional and well-stocked Tap Room, you’ll find a selection of local ales including Timothy Taylor, Ilkley Brewery and Black Sheep. Our all-day menu will offer a choice of freshly prepared British classics, Daily Seafood Specials and Sunday Roasts. Think Yorkshire Cheese Fritters, Steamed Mussels, Pies, Fish & Chips, Steamed Syrup Sponge and, of course, Will’s Lamb Cutlets.”