A FLORIST who had to give up her job after she was diagnosed with arthritis decided to open a cafe in a Newport park instead — and has just celebrated her first anniversary in business.

Jayne Thorley opened Mrs T’s Cafe in Beechwood Park in July last year after she realised she could no longer manipulate her blooms into bouquets.

“My decision to apply for the vacant cafe came abruptly after being diagnosed with arthritis, which forced me to leave the job I loved as a trained florist,” she said.

“Having to admit to myself that I was going to struggle to continue my career was hard to accept. Flowers were a big part of my proposed future. However, they require cold conditions to maintain their longevity, and this was the worst scenario as my health required the opposite. Warm conditions were vital to my recovery.”

After being told her application to run the cafe was successful, she had just two weeks to get it ready for the public.

“It was a complete and utter shock to me,” she said. “I very quickly realised that the daunting prospect of cooking for the general public, rather than just for my family, was becoming a reality.”

Aiming to provide healthy and fresh food in a homely environment, Mrs Thorley, or Mrs T, sells afternoon tea, high tea and even a Sunday lunch each week.

And one year on from that initial shock, she has celebrated the milestone with a party and says the future is positive.

“We have a huge amount of regular customers and we are always happy to provide a listening ear for them to share their stories of the week with,” she said.

“As a business we would like to work further with the council and Venture Wales on improvements, including signage and making the cafe more distinctive in the park.

“We are in negotiation with the council to put a sturdy weatherproof parasol in place to encourage dog walkers to stop and rest their weary feet as, come rain or shine, they use the park whatever the weather.

“Additionally, this would benefit the increasing number of mothers and toddlers and other customers who wish to shelter from the sun.

“With the proposed formation of Beechwood Park Residents’ Committee, and with the support of Venture Wales and the council, Mrs T’s future looks promising.”

Beechwood residents are currently trying to regenerate areas of the park. Email beechwoodparkvolunteers@gmail.com for more information.