A THRILLED mum and son who were furloughed during lockdown have taken over a beautiful eatery on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

Penelope Phillips and son Morgan Tuckwell opened for business at Penelope’s Café yesterday, just months after both left their jobs due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

Penelope (below) lost her job at Evans Halshaw in Newport weeks before the premises at Goytre Wharf, between Pontypool and Abergavenny, became available.

South Wales Argus:

Morgan, who worked for Wilsons Auctions in Newport, left his role after spending seven months on furlough.

It has been a long-standing dream for the pair, who visited Goytre Wharf every Sunday when Morgan was a child.

“We started coming here 14 years ago and that was when I first thought about taking this place on one day,” said Penelope, who has been in the automotive industry for most of the last 25 years.

“I used my redundancy money to take it over, and I’m still pinching myself. To say it’s finally mine is fantastic.”

Asked whether she is concerned heading into the winter as the spike in cases continues, she said: “I’d have taken this over whatever the situation - it was too good to turn down.


"I worry about the winter, but I’m just trying to make sure we are as prepared as possible, and we’re hoping for the best, but we have kept reserves back.”

There is reason for optimism given the rise in the number of visitors to the county’s rural retreats.

“It’s encouraging to see people coming to places like this,” Penelope said.

South Wales Argus:

They have worked tirelessly to get the place ready over the last two weeks, with social distancing markers on the floor and reminders to wear masks indoors.

“My vision is, if we can get through the winter, the majority of people will be outside enjoying the sunshine and space we have here.

“I’m aiming to be having regular barbecues and an alcohol licence in the spring, and we’re looking into doing functions too.”

Twenty-year-old Morgan said: “I’m so proud of her. She’s brought me up as a single parent and she’s wanted this place since I can remember.

“The last few months have not been nice for either of us, but it shows how quickly life can change.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, and a dream come true in very unexpected circumstances.”