Cancer survivor opens aircraft-themed cafe on former RAF base

Ellie and Alan Fenton have reopened a cafe on the Notley Industrial estate in Raydon, near Hadleigh

Ellie and Alan Fenton have reopened a cafe on the Notley Industrial estate in Raydon, near Hadleigh - Credit: The Runway Cafe

A new aircraft-themed cafe has been opened by a cancer survivor on the site of a former USAF base. 

Ellie and Alan Fenton "seized the day" and opened the Runway Cafe in Raydon on Monday, April 11.

Mrs Fenton said: "I was diagnosed with cancer last year, had major surgery and was off work for quite a few months.

"It makes you re-evaluate your life and I've always wanted to run a cafe, so I said 'now is the opportunity, if we don't do it now, seize the day and all that, we'll never do it'.

"My husband and I both handed our notices in and went off to buy the cafe. We were working long hours, and the thought of having 4-hour commutes again or working to 9pm — We just wanted a better quality of life and one we can control."

Ellie is passionate about the history of the base, which was used by the US Army Airforce during the Second World War

Ellie is passionate about the history of the base, which was used by the US Army Airforce during the Second World War, and has decorated the cafe with old photographs showing its history - Credit: The Runway Cafe

She continued: "It is a bit quiet at the moment but this was deliberate, to sort of ease ourselves into it.

"My husband was a retail food manager for a big store, and part of that was overseeing the cafe to a certain extent. I'm a good home baker and cook, but was a sustainability manager before this so It is a big change."

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The Runway Cafe serves what they describe as "pretty standard cafe food": "Breakfasts, light lunches, jacket potatoes, omelettes, paninis are very popular.

"As we go along I'm hoping to add some more specials and home-baked items."

The Runway cafe will be serving "standard cafe" food to start with but plans on adding home-baked items and tea boxes

The Runway cafe will be serving "standard cafe" food to start with but plans on adding home-baked items and tea boxes to the menu - Credit: The Runway Cafe

"We do salads, which were never done here before. We try and make it as varied as can be. We're on a learning curve as to what people want.

"Obviously, our key audience is people on this estate, who are mainly men who want their bacon sandwiches in the morning.

"I'm going to do afternoon tea boxes we can deliver to the local area as well, once we've settled in a bit. 

"There's so much opportunity" Mrs Fenton added. "In the local area, apart from Hadleigh, there are not really a lot of places you can go to eat, so we really want to push out to the local community and visitors, and to make the most of the history of the park."