IT is the icing on the cake for a community project that saw a railway station go from grotty to gorgeous.
Scores of people enjoyed coffee and cake yesterday at a new cafe that has opened at Emsworth railway station’s waiting room.
The Carriages Cupcake and Coffee shop, run by Garry and Michelle Pascoe, was only possible because of the effort of residents to restore the Victorian station to its former glory.
The project has taken three years to complete and seen more than £300,000 come from Southern Railway, Emsworth Residents’ Association, the now-defunct South East England Development Agency and Hampshire County Council. There is a new disabled ramp, a waiting room with information boards about Emsworth – and now a cafe for commuters to enjoy a hot drink.
Residents paved the way for the cafe by helping to pay for the station to be rewired – because even switching on a kettle would have plunged the station into darkness.
Garry, 51, a former army warrant officer, said: ‘About a month ago the prime minister said there are 10,000 bits of red tape to go through to open a small business. It’s probably taken me about 9,999 hoops to jump through, but we have persevered with it.’
Garry surprised his wife at the ribbon-cutting ceremony by declaring she now owned the business.
She believed her husband owned 51 per cent, but Garry revealed his white lie yesterday to Michelle’s delight.
Michelle, 46, a physical training instructor in the Royal Navy, plans to start working full-time once she finishes her service next year.
She said: ‘I have always wanted to run a little coffee shop. I am very much a people person. I never thought I would have my own business but everything has slotted into place.’
Children from Year 5 and 6 at Emsworth Primary School made a collage out of train tickets for the waiting room.
Grace Fisk, 11, said: ‘It was a really good idea because if the train is late you can have a tea or coffee.’
Lorraine Clode, who has spearheaded the renovation, said: ‘The community is so glad to have a coffee shop here. Everybody loves it!’