Interview with Ollie Abbott

Interview with Ollie Abbott

After over ten years as Manager of Café Connect, Ollie Abbott hung up her apron and retired at the end of February.

We caught up with her -amidst leaving parties and appointing two new co-managers – and reflected on over a decade spent at the church-run coffee shop at the heart of Radbook Green.IMG_8710

When did you first get involved with Café Connect?

I first go involved in Café Connect in 2002, when it was newly opened. I was – and still am – part of the Church of Christ the King in Radbrook Green, and I wanted to get involved in our local community. I became manager in 2005, and haven’t looked back since!

You must have met some interesting people over the years….

The one that really sticks in my mind is a man called Les. The café was both his second home, and in many senses his ‘church’ as well. When he got frail we used to take him sandwiches up the road, and we were so touched when he left some money to the Café on his death. But of course it isn’t just Les, everyone who comes into the café is special.

Tell us about working with the volunteers….

It has been such a privilege to work with a great team of volunteers. From teenage exchange students to a 94 year old, without the army of volunteers the café would never exist. I always reckon that the most important person in the café is whoever is doing the washing up, as without them the place wouldn’t operate.

Even on days when the coffee machine blows up, the fridge is bust, you’re short staffed and people are queuing out the door, you always seem to smile and keep going. How?

I can only say that I always feel that God has been helping me. I pray before we open for a peaceful day -though not too peaceful, as I love being in the café when there are lots of customers!

What are you going to miss the most?

The customers and their love of the café. You don’t get that in most jobs, and it is what has made being manager so special and rewarding.

As you look to the future, what excites you about the Café?

We’ve made really strong connections with lots of people in Radbrook Green and beyond, so I’m excited to see ways in which we can bless the community in the future. It’s all about the love really. I’m also excited by the links we have over many years at The Ark, Shrewsbury Homes for All, Soul Purpose, and various other projects. It’s greats to know that when people come in and buy things at the Café, they’re being a small blessing to many other people locally as well.

What’s the plan once you retire?

I’m going to try and get involved in some other community projects. You might still see me around the café very occasionally for the monthly ‘Dementia Friendly’ events, as well as among people who live locally in Radbrook Green.

Café Connect is a church-run Coffee shop at the heart of Radbrook Green in Shrewsbury. Open six days a week, the café offers good food, great hospitality and the warmest of welcomes. Join us for drinks, snacks and light lunches to eat in or take away.

NEW OPENING TIMES: please note our new opening times are 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and Saturdays 9.00am to 1.00pm.