New Dersingham tea room offers life skills with the latte
- Credit: Archant
The shabby chic interior and occasional clink of fine china may seem miles from the stresses and strains of the classroom.
But when two school instructors opted to change careers and open a tea room, they took some of their former pupils with them.
Wendy Williams and Angie Bates both worked in special education at the Rosebery School in King's Lynn, which takes in pupils who have been expelled from other West Norfolk schools.
Both had grown disillusioned with the system before taking the plunge and opening a tea room.
When Petals Tea Room opened up at Dersingham in November, they offered permanent work placements to two of their former charges.
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Now Charlee and Aisha, both 15, help them bake and serve up cakes and teas in the village's newest attraction.
'I love it, I really do, I love it,' said Charlee, from King's Lynn. 'The customers are so friendly, they never make me feel like I'm doing stuff wrong.' Aisha, who lives in Dersingham, said: 'It's good, I enjoy it, I've been here from the start.'
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Former pupil Wesley, 23, also helps out in the kitchen. He said: 'I love coming here, it gives you a real sense of pride. There's no hierarchy, everybody chips in.'
Mrs Williams said she and Mrs Bates had often talked about leaving the staff room for their own tea room.
'We always had the desire to do this but we wanted to do it as a teaching establishment as well, so we train our pupils in every aspect of the business from cleaning to washing up,' she said.
Mrs Bates added: 'They're doing their work experience here with a view to developing social skills and learning how to conduct themselves in the workplace, so we can prepare them for the outside world.'
When not at Petals, Charlee is educated privately and Aisha by alternative provider Include Catch 22. Both hope the tea room will be the stepping stone to a career in hospitality.
Mrs Williams said the dog-friendly tea room, on Manor Road, had received a warm welcome from villagers and visitors to the nearby Sandringham Estate.
'They're brilliant people in Dersingham, they're the kindest people I've ever met,' she said.
'People have given us tea sets, tea strainers, people have gifted us presents and their loyalty to us is second to none.'