The family owners of a village tea shop and post office business are battling back to reopen after catastrophic flash floods.
Sisters Katie Mace and Kirsty Kershaw run Leadenham Teahouse under the same roof as Leadenham Post office which is operated by their mum Karen Swift. They were horrified when torrential rains on June 2 caused blocked drains to wash into the shop, forcing them to close to dry out and refit.
Although the Post Office managed to reopen, in order to maintain five star hygiene standards, the Teahouse has been forced to close for six weeks after initially opening to help those householders also affected by the floods in the locality.
Katie explained: “Following a drying out period, deep clean and furniture restoration, our serving counter has been removed and we’ve had to have our shop fitters replace the woodwork. The three inches of flood water that sat at the bottom of our counter could have been contaminated and also swelled the wood once it began to dry out. Luckily our shop fitter still had the plans from when we opened, so have just remade everything with a few tweaks.”
They have taken the opportunity to undergo a full refurbishment, painting and refreshing the areas. Katie said: “There was a layer of moisture remaining under the resin floor which was reading at 38 per cent moisture and we needed it to reduce to 17 per cent to get our ‘dry’ certificate.”
After four commercial dehumidifiers working 24 hours a day for a month, it looks like Leadenham Teahouse will re-open on July 23 - just in time for them to host their planned Artisan Market which coincides with the Leadenham folk festival at The George Hotel on August 5.
Katie said: “We are a venue as well, having headliner Vikki Clayton playing here on stage. We have more than 40 local businesses, producers and crafters booked in for the market in our grounds, so it’s going to be a real festival feel again.”
She added: “We wanted to be open a couple of weeks beforehand so everyone knew it was going ahead.”
She said it was important that the Post Office stayed open for the community and to reassure old customers that they would be returning by seeing work progressing.
“It has been a bit of a worry as we are a relatively new rural business and being closed so long could have lost that relationship with customers. We have to have the resilience to bounce back quickly and it has been busy but exciting,” Katie said, adding that it had also inspired them to make more plans to boost footfall in quieter months with more events building up to Christmas.
“We are always promoting ourselves and tourism to Leadenham and people have been very supportive. It has been a community pulling together after the flood and we really want to thank everyone.
“People come to us because they get that personal, over the counter service at the Post Office as many have been lost or turned into convenience stores.”