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‘We’re all still there for each other’ – Veteran’s coffee shop reopens for takeaways

PUBLISHED: 11:30 12 June 2020

The coffee shop is open inside the existing bicycle shop in Princes Street  Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

The coffee shop is open inside the existing bicycle shop in Princes Street Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

Archant

An Ipswich veteran has pledged to continue supporting fellow ex-forces personnel as his town centre coffee shop reopens for takeaways.

Nigel Seaman was inspired to start the company after battling post-traumatic stress disorder  Picture: OLIVER SULLIVANNigel Seaman was inspired to start the company after battling post-traumatic stress disorder Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

Nigel Seaman’s Combat2Coffee store, based inside the Spokeworx bicycle shop run by friend Tyree Mckinney, had only been open four weeks before the country was placed in lockdown but has since begun serving coffee to takeaway thanks to Mr Mckinney.

The business, which started in a caravan in March 2019, aims to help veterans by serving as a safe space to talk, while training veterans and former convicts to become baristas. It also raises money for charity Combat Stress through the sales of its Recovery Blend coffee.

But although he has been able to serve customers a hearty brew, Mr Seaman has continued to support veterans via the telephone or online, and said he can’t wait to soon be back at the shop himself.

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Mr Seaman, 46, said: “Nothing has been good about lockdown, but it’s helped me better organise and plan where we want to go with the business – and how we can ensure we are helping as many veterans as we can.

“We are still helping people – just last weekend I helped a veteran who had been struggling and have been doing all I can to help restore his independence. It has been a challenging time for all of us.

“Even myself, I’ve had a few wobbles – especially when we were all glued to our television screens during the first dew weeks of lockdown, when it felt there was no end in sight. But through Zoom calls and our Facebook group we’re all still there for each other.”

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Mr Seaman’s coffee blend has also been sold at nearby pubs the Arcade Tavern and the Swan and Hedgehog, but hopes more customers will visit the store while major high-street cafes remain closed. He also hopes to offer free iced lattes on the Cornhill for Armed Forces Day on June 27.

Mr Seaman added: “We’re one of the only places left where you can grab a fresh cup of hot coffee.

“We are by no means out of the woods yet with this virus, but we will continue to be there to help people.”

Combat Stress, the veterans’ charity which helped Mr Seaman throughout his mental health struggles, is continuing to offer 24-hour support to armed forces veterans across the country and can be contacted on 0800 138 1619.


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