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Meet the people transforming a dilapidated old railway shed into a thriving community hub

FEMALE entrepreneurs are leading the pack as part of a new £1.2 million development set to open its doors this summer.

Charitable housing association Grŵp Cynefin and Meliden Residents Action Group are behind a project to transform a dilapidated old railway shed into a thriving community hub.

After extensive renovations, work is almost complete on transforming the old building on the walkway at Meliden, near Prestatyn, into a centre with heritage displays, café, meeting space and business units.

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With the aim of breathing life into the community and supporting up-and-coming companies and creative individuals, the first people set to move onto Y Shed’s site have been unveiled.

They include sisters Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts who are setting up a new venture together and will be running Y Shed’s café, launching a menu which pays homage to the local area.

Café at Y Shed: Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts

Café at Y Shed: Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts

For Rachel Roberts and Jane Roberts running Y Shed’s café will be a whole new venture. The sisters, from Dyserth and Rhyl, will be working together to run the family-friendly café. Rachel also runs the Castle Day Nursery in Rhuddlan, which this year celebrates its silver anniversary. Together the pair wanted to embark on a new challenge and will be using local produce for their menu, supporting other local businesses. Jane said: “We always had an interest in food and wanted to do something together. We liked the community vibe around Y Shed and, as dog owners, we loved the location. We’re aiming to provide visitors with good quality food with an experience to match.”

Occupying the business units at the Grade II listed site will be wellbeing specialist Ffion Medi Davies Kelly, acclaimed artist Susie Liddle, jewellery and craft maker Sandra Payne, and dog groomer Melanie Cawthray.

Elemental Health and Wellbeing: Ffion Medi Davies Kelly

Ffion Medi Davies Kelly

Ffion lives a stone’s throw from Y Shed. Taking inspiration from working on the beach in Portugal, Ffion will provide a range of treatments including relaxing Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian) and Cowrie shell massages. She will also treat ailments such as arthritis, sports injuries, and hormonal imbalances. Ffion has been involved in the complementary therapy and beauty industry for over 10 years and has a Bachelor of Science degree in acupuncture.
She is also qualified to teach complementary health care and holds a Post Graduate Certificate in education. She said: “This location is beautiful, encourages relaxation and the feeling of being away from it all.”

Artist Susie Liddle

For artist Susie Liddle, Y Shed’s backdrop could be the inspiration for a new project.

Susie Liddle

For artist Susie Liddle, Y Shed’s backdrop could be the inspiration for a new project. The former Prestatyn High School supply teacher, who lives in Meliden, trained at Llandrillo College and Glyndwr University and has had her artwork displayed in galleries
including MOSTYN in Llandudno. Specialising in encaustic art, an ancient painting method using wax and pigment, Susie visits America every year to brush up on her skills and has just returned from a trip to Kansas.
She said: “Y Shed is in an inspiring setting, surrounded by wonderful countryside. The history of the area is fascinating. I am interested in the minutiae of everyday life so these things combined could make for a new project once I am settled into the new studio.”

Jewellery and crafts: Sandra Payne

Sanra Payne will have a craft hub at Y Shed, supporting other craft makers and running workshops.

Sandra Payne

When Sandra moved from Southampton to her new home in Kinmel Bay little did she know what was a hobby once would become a new business venture. A self-taught jewellery maker and keen knitter, Sandra began by making jewellery to go with her outfits. After retiring and moving to North Wales with husband Alan, Sandra began selling her crafts at Rhos on Sea Country Market and has now outgrown her home craft room. She said: “I wanted somewhere I could make my own, dress the space the way I wanted and use the space to sell my jewellery and crafts. I’m also looking to have a craft hub at Y Shed, supporting other craft makers and running workshops.”

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Bowwow’s Dogs Company: Melanie Cawthray

Running Bowwow’s Dog Company is a walk in the park for Melanie Cawthray who also lives close to Y Shed.

Melanie Cawthray and Carole Macauley

Running Bowwow’s Dog Company is a walk in the park for Melanie Cawthray who also lives close to Y Shed. She set up the company in 2014 and wanting a career change. She now walks up to 10 dogs a day, helping owners who can’t get out and about, and grooms dogs to ensure they’re in tip-top condition. Adopting a holistic approach, Melanie was looking for a calming environment to expand her dog grooming and hit upon Y Shed. Melanie, who is trained in dog behavioural techniques said: “Y Shed is a great, affordable place to grow the business and I liked the ethos. Many dog walkers use the track so they can drop their dog in and have a bite to eat whilst they wait.” Melanie will be helped out by friend Carole Macauley who has overcome her own fear of dogs to help grow the business.

Mair Edwards, Grŵp Cynefin’s Community Initiatives Manager, said: “The idea behind Y Shed was two-fold – to support the community by bringing in visitors and to support up-and-coming business people, providing them with an affordable space to work from.

“The Welsh Government recently launched a new initiative to increase the number of women entrepreneurs, but it appears, in this corner of Wales, they are leading the field. We had a wide range of applicants and each went through a rigorous application process so those joining us have their place on merit. What is great is the diversity of the services on offer with each offering something very different but connected to the area.”

For new café owners, Rachel and Jane, Y Shed will be something of a departure. Rachel runs a successful children’s nursery in Rhuddlan, and Jane is a retired midwife who helps her husband Derek run his Prestatyn restaurant La Ricetta.

The sisters wanted a new venture to work on together and set their sights on the café. They will be joined by Rachel’s daughter Meg, a trained barista who was delivered by Jane during her time as a midwife.

“We were impressed with Rachel’s and Jane’s enthusiasm but also how they plan to weave their menu into the local area. Visitors can expect dishes named after the mountainside and the fish caves which surround Y Shed.

“In fact, this love of the area is something all had in common. For Susie, it could be the basis for a new art project; Ffion will be offering therapies based on the sea; Sandra will be using the backdrop to inspire her crafts and Melanie will be providing a service for the many dog walkers in the area. On top of that, visitors will be able to see all of them at work and find out more when they visit,” added Mair.

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