New businesses thriving in coastal resort thanks to skills support

BUSINESS is booming in a seaside resort thanks to a pioneering skills and regeneration programme.

Aberystwyth is reaping the benefits of New Skills New Start, a UK Government initiative funded via the UK Community Renewal Fund, led by Ceredigion Council and delivered by Antur Cymru Enterprise.

Among those to have capitalised on the scheme’s financial and administrative resources was Pawel Banaszynski, who opened his first venture – Y Gornel Café – in the town just weeks ago.

Formerly a chef at some of the region’s leading fish restaurants, Pawel, who hails from Poland but has lived in mid-Wales for 17 years, thanked Project Manager Julie Morgan and the New Skills New Start team for helping him to access a BusinessWales Barriers Grant and being on hand with guidance and advice.

“It was always my dream to own my own place, so when this venue became available it was a split-second decision to go for it,” said Pawel, who is supported by wife Anita and daughters Marianna and Milena.

“Previously I was always too busy or didn’t quite have the confidence, and then the Coronavirus pandemic arrived, which gave me a chance to reflect and decide it was the right time to make this dream come true.

“I have no business experience, so I am thankful to Julie and the programme for the information and expertise I received, which has made a big difference, especially in securing a grant which enabled us to buy crockery, cutlery and equipment.”

He added: “To finally open the doors was incredible, we have received such a positive response from the local community and many of my old customers have popped in to say hello.

“We can seat up to 40 customers and there will be room for even more outside in the Spring and Summer months – this is the start of an amazing journey.”

Another to have embraced New Skills New Start is Helen Vardy, owner of Yoga Essentials, based at the pop-up Trading Space for ethical start-ups on Great Darkgate Street.

Helen still works part-time in childcare and education – one-to-one with autistic young learners – but also runs the artisan firm and has seen it expand throughout the year having launched it following a horse-riding accident during the pandemic.

Selling yoga equipment and scented candles, she has added a line of clothing and hopes to one day open her own premises in Aberystwyth.

“I have done yoga all of my life, which has always helped me personally, especially after I badly smashed and dislocated my wrists in the accident,” said Helen.

“I’m very independent but had to rely heavily on my partner Paul, son Josh and others to do everything for me as my mobility was limited, so meditation and yoga were important for my recovery.

“Doing that and having so much time to think made me determined to take these things I loved so much forward as a business idea, and I’m so pleased to have contacted New Skills New Start and joined the community at the Trading Space, who are all so supportive.

“I also have dyslexia so having them around to talk to face to face is helpful, it has boosted my confidence and as a result the business is growing all the time.”

Julie says the variety of guidance offered to both Pawel and Helen demonstrated the breadth of support available from Antur Cymru, adding: “I am absolutely delighted to see them go from strength to strength, they have worked so hard and have brought their dreams to reality.

“We have helped many start-ups over the last year from the Trading Space and many more will follow. It’s heartening to see what a positive effect it is having for the future and the economy in Ceredigion.”

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