Image demonstrating Riverside venture proving a big hit

Riverside venture proving a big hit

The cafe at Tyne Riverside Country Park in Low Prudhoe has been officially re-opened.

The building, which was built in the 19th Century and has had a variety of uses, had been vacant since being damaged in the 2015 floods.  It has now been fully refurbished with a new kitchen, servery and furniture, and interpretive displays funded through the Land of Oak & Iron project.

A ribbon cutting ceremony has now been performed to declare the centre officially open.

Northumberland County Council awarded the lease to operate the cafe and visitor centre to local company the St Camillus Group (SCG), who provide job coaching and education to young people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.

SCG support young people to learn in live work environments, which are also commercial businesses with customers, and employment opportunities. They were also recently awarded a North East Equality Award for ‘Organisations Supporting People with Disabilities’ for the second consecutive year.

As a company overall, they employ 26 people with a disability or enduring mental health condition. The Riverside Café will be overseen by Holly Kelleher, Head of Learning and Business Development for St Camillus Group, who is also a Prudhoe resident and the parent of a young adult with autism.

The opening of the cafe has generated ten paid jobs, with six of these going to people with autism and learning difficulties.

The visitor centre is one of three heritage centres created by the Land of Oak & Iron project.  Hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Land of Oak & Iron project works to celebrate, conserve and enhance the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of the area surrounding the Derwent Valley including Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham.

The new Tyne Riverside Café  provides training and employment opportunities to young disabled people in Tynedale.

John Rundle, Chair of the Board at the Land of Oak & Iron, said: “Prudhoe is one of the gateways to all that the Land of Oak & Iron has to offer.

“Steeped with history, heritage and natural habitats to explore, the area offers something for everyone. It’s fantastic that the cafe at Tyne Riverside Country Park is now open, and I’m sure it’ll provide the perfect opportunity for people to relax after or fuel up before a full and exciting day of exploring the area.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “Across the county we’re working to improve the offer at our country parks, while maintaining what’s special about them in the first place.

“I’m delighted the cafe and visitor centre are proving a success and are being well used by visitors and the local community. It’s also a great example of our partnership working with organisations like The Land of Oak and Iron.”

Prudhoe North County Councillor Ken Stow said: "I am very pleased to see, after a very long period of closure, that the cafe is back in use.  It’s good to see it being run by such a worthwhile organisation. I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength"

Prudhoe South County Councillor Gordon Stewart added: “The opening of the cafe is welcomed by residents of Prudhoe and the wider community as we look at improving the tourism and leisure offer in the town and creating more employment opportunities.”
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