Combat2Coffee shop to open in Ipswich town centre this week
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Former soldier and mental health champion Nigel Seaman is days away from achieving his dreams of opening his own coffee shop in Ipswich town centre.
Royal Anglian veteran, Nigel, 47, first launched Combat2Coffee in 2019 in an attempt to help raise money for charity Combat Stress, while encouraging former servicemen and women to open up about their mental health.
Since then, his company has expanded from a purely mobile operation to now having a second cafe in Ipswich, with the other being inside the Spokeworx cycle store in Princes Street. His heartwarming story has also seen him appear on The One Show.
The new coffee shop, in Northgate Street, will be staffed both by veterans and current and former prison inmates – with residents at Hollesley Bay Prison being trained to become baristas at the Combat2Coffee roasting house and shop based there.
A number of local businesses helped in a DIY: SOS style project to help get the shop ready, while £5,000 of funding from the Suffolk Community Foundation has helped to create official takeaway coffee cups, complete with the Samaritans helpline printed on them.
One of the rooms is devoted to the prison – with a table being built from an old cell door – while another showcases military history. Throughout the shops are references to Mr Seaman's past as a soldier, prison officer and firefighter.
Mr Seaman said he can't wait to open the doors to the public, with the shop set to open for takeaway drinks from Friday.
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He said: "I'm both excited and nervous to finally get going.
"This isn't only going to help veterans, and it won't only help people in Ipswich – we want the shop to become a place for people from the surrounding areas to come and get support over a great cup of coffee."
Aside from helping veterans and former prison inmates, the shop will also act as a wellbeing hub for anyone facing their own mental health struggles.
Mr Seaman added: "We have all been struggling – everyone has struggled in some away as a result of what's happened over the last year.
"I do all of this because I want to help people, not just because it helps me with my recovery – if this shop helps one person get the support they need then it will be a success.
"We are really starting to establish ourselves as a brand now and I hope this will be the year to springboard us to further success."