The Star at Cotton


By investing in apprenticeships, The Star at Cotton is building a passionate, motivated, and committed team of young professionals wanting to build a career in hospitality.

In its modernised gastro pub, The Star at Cotton has provided modern British pub food in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands since 2020. Owners Emma Hall and Ryan Yates have rebuilt the business over the past two years, ensuring they thrived throughout the pandemic while retaining their 38 members of staff.

In March 2020, Emma and Ryan took steps to create career opportunities and a culture of loyalty within their workforce by partnering with leading hospitality training provider, HIT Training. Knowing the challenges of maintaining a stable business during a global pandemic, they understood that investing in their workforce was essential.

Emma commented: “Our top priority has always been to provide our team with strong support, direction, and leadership. Having HIT Training on board gives our employees mentorship and the chance to gain new skills from industry experts. Our partnership helps us achieve our goals of building a passionate, motivated, and committed team of young professionals who want to build a career with us.”

This was the first time that Emma and Ryan had implemented an apprenticeship programme, and with a variety of skills gaps to fill, they decided to start with training their front of house staff.

Ryan said: “Knowing the rewards that an apprenticeship programme could offer us, we enrolled our staff member, Ellie, onto the Level 2 Hospitality Team Member apprenticeship with the intention to move onto the Level 3 Hospitality Supervisor apprenticeship.”

The Star at Cotton

The Star at Coton


Supported by HIT Training, Ellie’s learning journey provided guidance throughout challenging and difficult situations due to the pandemic. However, The Star at Cotton has already started reaping the rewards of investing in apprenticeships by raising awareness of on-the-job training among their workforce.

Emma said: “By building Ellie’s skills and knowledge through her apprenticeship, she’s helped us step up our game as a business! From helping us to develop a new cocktail and seasonal food menu, to improving our knowledge of cellar maintenance and allergens. Ellie has passed on these skills to our entire team.”

With the success of Ellie’s apprenticeship creating positive change throughout the business, The Star at Cotton has raised awareness of apprenticeships and taken huge steps towards creating a team of experts at the same time.

Emma said: “Our workforce felt inspired by Ellie’s passion, skills and the difference she’s made with the positive changes she’s implemented. As a result, we’ve been able to get our apprenticeship programme well underway! Plans are already in place for Ellie to progress into a supervisor role and we’re enrolling one of our kitchen staff onto a culinary apprenticeship with HIT Training.”

In addition to creating a culture of learning and supporting the careers of their workforce, The Star at Cotton is championing apprenticeships and the benefits of on-the-job training.

Ryan added: “Investing in apprenticeships has given our team the confidence to recognise that they’re making a difference and that they can build a career with us. Our apprenticeship programme has helped us retain all of our staff during a global pandemic, while giving us so many positive results. We’re also providing a better service to our customers and promoting hospitality apprenticeships via our social media accounts to support the industry and celebrate the success of our employees.


Michael Mercer – Catering Manager at Sodexo

Peter Szucs – Chef at Lillian Faithful Homes

Johnny Daws – Supervisor and Cellar Manager at The Gloucester Old Spot

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