Fifteen senior pupils from Cartmel Priory School were given an insight into the hotel and catering trade during a visit to the Swan Hotel at Newby Bridge in 1988.

They were among many Cumbrian youngsters who took part in the National Catering Careers Open Day, a day designed to spread the message that the hotel and catering industry was exciting and varied and offered real career prospects.

The Swan management said they forecast a lack of applicants for jobs in the industry in the early 1990s, because of a drop in the birth rate some 20 years previously.

The hotel's deputy manager, Graham Lloyd, said: "We wanted to give interested pupils a proper insight into the industry, by taking them behind the scenes.

"Coincidentally, the Hotel Catering Training Board were here with a seminar, so they joined in and it all proved extremely worthwhile."

The pupils saw various parts of the hotel at work and were invited to try their hand at a variety of jobs, including changing beer barrels, changing pillowslips, coping with a maintenance fault, servicing wine and serving peas with a spoon and fork! They also had to separate an egg yolk.

The pupils had now got one more task to complete. They had to concoct a menu and poster to attract children in the hotel's Mailcoach restaurant.

Other Cumbrian establishments which took part in the special day included the Regent Hotel at Ambleside, the Langdale Estate, the Swan at Grasmere and the Appleby Manor Hotel at Appleby.

Pupils from John Ruskin and the Lakes Schools visited the Grasmere hotel and had a varied day sampling different aspects of the industry. At Appleby, 12 Grammar School pupils visited 'the Manor' and helped the chef prepare locally farmed venison fillets.

At Langdale, 39 pupils from Queen Katherine and Kirkbie Kendal Schools in Kendal, and Victoria High School, Ulverston, saw presentations by staff on career opportunities in a leisure resort and had a practical 'hands-on' session laying a table.

Many of the establishments, including the Swan at Newby Bridge and Langdale Estate, said they would repeat the exercise the following year.