Arkell’s, the Wiltshire brewer and pub operator, is claiming a UK first by creating the role of brewery community liaison manager to help its pubs diversify to help the local community. The company’s former free trade director Richard Turner has come out of retirement to take on the position, which will involve working with the Arkells’ rural pubs to build links with local parish councils and communities. Turner’s role will involve examining whether community resources such as post offices and shops can be added to the pubs. Arkell’s said it wants to “turn the idea of what a rural pub should offer on its head”, and “nothing is ruled in or ruled out” - yoga lessons and toddler groups are among the activities being considered. Turner will also be in charge of helping licensees with issues such as rural rate relief and reducing energy costs. Brewery chairman James Arkell said: “With rural post offices and village stores closing, the role of the village pub is changing and there are opportunities for these pubs which weren’t there before. “If new initiatives are supported by the local community, they could improve a pub’s viability and reintroduce local amenities which have been lost. Richard will work with the local community and pub landlord, to identify what is and isn’t practical and make viable initiatives happen.” Turner said: “Where local post offices have closed, a number of Arkell’s pubs have already taken the initiative to offer rural postal services. Others sell grocery essentials such as milk, bread, eggs and daily newspapers. "This benefits everyone. We are encouraging input and support from local communities where this has yet to happen.” The idea is already being put to the test at Arkell’s Rose & Crown near Swindon. The company invited villagers to have a say on how the pub will be run when the previous licensees announced they were leaving in February. A steering committee has been established to share ideas.