A WEST Cumbrian cafe is celebrating a decade at the heart of the community this month.

Cockermouth favourite, VeeVa, regularly welcomes customers from far and wide and has established itself as one of the region’s favourite venues over the past ten years.

Yesterday marked the reaching of a milestone after a year like no other for this Allerdale mainstay.

Owner Gareth Williams was in nostalgic mood and said that he looked back on the overall experience with real pride.

“I was employed about four months before we started the business to put everything in place so I’ve been here right from the very start," he said. "Obviously, things that we started off doing have changed dramatically over the years with new challenges coming along the way, with us adapting to customer demand and working procedures to make things smoother for everyone.

“The business had grown from strength to strength and we’ve thankfully been busier as each year has gone by. We’ve got such a loyal regular base in the town and it is something I’m really proud of that we’ve been here for so long and people keep on coming back."

Building a relationship with people in the community and becoming a real hub for people of all ages is something Gareth also reflects on with pride, with the support during the pandemic particularly touching.

He said: “It’s so nice to see that we have people coming in from the very beginning that still are coming in now, ten years on.

“There are ladies who we first met ten years ago, who came in with baby bumps, and then those same kids now come into the cafe in their school uniforms. Some of the kids that come here used to be brought here as toddlers and are now in secondary school.

“Through the two big lockdowns we closed down completely, and didn’t even do takeaways. Even then, customers were getting in touch to ask how we were.

“Cockermouth is a town that is all about community. I think we feel more than a coffee shop now – we class everyone as friends. We can’t thank everyone enough.”

Gareth said the anniversary would be marked by staff and customers this month with a competition.

“We’re still going back to normal gradually, but we are celebrating with a competition with ten prizes – one for every year. The response has been amazing and we’re also putting up balloons as a celebration with free tasters to all customers who come in that day.

“All the support means the world to us.”