Ella’s Mobile Café gets into gear on Torquay’s harbour side to raise funds for local hospice

There’s a new talking point on Torquay’s harbour side in the form of Rowcroft Hospice’s iconic Citroen H van! Dating from 1973, the beautiful vintage van has been lovingly restored and carefully converted into a mobile café, to serve delicious refreshments, snacks and light lunches, with all profits going directly to support people with life-limiting illnesses across South Devon.

Known as Ella’s Mobile Café (named after Ella Rowcroft, whose generosity led to the foundation of Rowcroft Hospice), the eye-catching café is positioned by Torquay’s harbour slipway on Vaughan Parade. Serving teas, Devon-roasted barista coffees, hot chocolate, iced coffees, locally baked cakes, and lunches such as quiche, sandwiches and wraps, the café has been an instant hit with locals and tourists alike. The current pitch is secured until March 2021, and the café is open Thursdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm (plus some Wednesdays).

“Following a number of months in lockdown, we’re really delighted to be out and about again,” says Judy Smart, Ella’s Mobile Café Manager. “Here, with a stunning view of the harbour, we’re offering our wonderful customers the chance to enjoy a fabulous range of hot and cold drinks and tasty treats, and at the same time, to support Rowcroft Hospice in caring for local patients and families. So please do pop along to treat yourself.

“As a charity, Rowcroft plays such an important role in South Devon in caring for local patients and families, particularly for those going through some of the hardest times imaginable. It’s a real honour to know that, as well as serving delicious food and drink, Ella’s Mobile Café is supporting the amazing care that Rowcroft provides to our community.”

Rowcroft is always looking for volunteers to provide extra support. Judy has a few volunteers helping in the café, and she would warmly welcome enquiries from anyone else looking to volunteer:

“If you’d like to get involved in volunteering, then what better way than to spend your time serving fantastic food and drink from this beautiful van! It’s a great way to meet people, learn new skills, enjoy this stunning location, have some fun, and help support the expert care that Rowcroft provides to patients and families in our local community. I’m sure you’ll soon fall in love with Ella too!”

The quirky 47-year-old van, affectionately named ‘Ella’, was renovated over recent years by students from South Devon College. Fitted with a sleek modern kitchen interior, Ella received generous support from other local organisations including Central Garage Torbay, Brixham Crafting Bees, Van-Formers, Salters Garage and Motor Parts Direct. The idea behind the renovation project was to develop a new business to generate further income for Rowcroft’s care, so that Rowcroft could extend its services to reach one in every two adults living with life-limiting illnesses in South Devon by 2023.

Rowcroft offers free care and support for all people with life-limiting illnesses — regardless of background, circumstance or diagnosis, including those with COVID-19 — in their own homes and in Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay. Rowcroft’s care has been rated as ‘outstanding’ (the highest possible rating) by the Care Quality Commission.

If you are interested in volunteering at Ella’s Mobile Café, then please contact Judy Smart by email at: smartj@rowcrofthospice.org.uk or pop along to the van during opening hours. For further details about Rowcroft Hospice, please see www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk or call 01803 210800.

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