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Work colleagues takeover vacant tea rooms in Glynneath

L-R: Chris Baylis and Joanne Baitup foreground, and Sian Wyndham of Neath Port Talbot Council and Martin Palmer of Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE. Picture by Nick Treharne

Work colleagues Chris Baylis and Joanne Baitup always dreamed of setting up a business together.

The friends had worked for a local older person’s charity and when they had the opportunity, they decided to take the plunge taking over the vacant tea rooms in Glynneath. But just weeks later in 2020 calamity struck and the nation went into Lockdown apparently scuppering their plans.

Undaunted, the pair launched a cakes and food delivery service covering a wide area between Neath and Aberdare to help the community get through those dire days.

And now their hard work and commitment has paid off and The Tearooms Glynneath is a flourishing cornerstone of the local community  playing a vital role bringing people together as life returns, hopefully, to normal.

The venue is gaining a reputation for its generous afternoon teas, and upstairs is a sales exhibition space for local crafters to display and sell their wares.

“It was always our dream to do something together and we were delighted when this tearoom became available,” said Chris.

And when Lockdown hit the pair were determined they wouldn’t be beaten. “We decided to offer takeaway and deliveries of cakes and other food and it became popular. The customers we gained then have now become valued, regular visitors.” added Joanne.

The UK Government’s Eat Out to Help Out was a bonus and the patio became a safe dining space during the pandemic, and now the place is fully open and  flourishing with local customers and passing trade on the busy main road nearby.

The  business received a grant of £500 administered by Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE and Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council.

“This was very helpful and enabled us to develop a website (www.TheTeaRooms.Wales) to hopefully reach a wider customer base,” said Chris.

Martin Palmer UKSE Regional Executive commented :”The Tearooms Glynneath is now, thanks to the determination of Joanne and Chris, a hub for the local community and we are delighted that we have been able to give our support. I am sure the business will go from strength to strength.”

Sian Wyndham Neath & Port Talbot Council New Business and Development Mentor said:  “In partnership with UKSE’s Community Support Programme, the Council’s Economic Development Team provides much needed financial support to help new and existing businesses in Neath Port Talbot to develop and grow. Businesses such as The Tearooms are vital to the local community for bringing people and businesses together. The past 2 years have not been easy for Chris and Jo but their hard work, adaptability and resilience has helped them to weather the COVID19 storm. It was a pleasure to be able to support such a great local business  and we wish Chris and Jo every success in the future.

“The Council’s Economic Development team can offer a whole host of support across a wide range of sectors to new and existing businesses and urges businesses who are looking to develop and grow to get in touch”.