Tonbridge community helps 65mm Coffee to make a bright start

THE new occupants of Gilbert House in Tonbridge, 65mm Coffee, have seen a crowdfunding campaign set up to help them make the transition into their new premises.

David Leeper and Jade Derrick have taken over the café on River Walk formerly known as Beyond the Grounds after their two-and-a-half-year tenancy at the Old Fire Station [TOFS] came to an end.

Friends and admirers of the couple, who are famed in the town for their caffeine brews, have established the fundraising scheme to provide them and their staff with £5,000.

65mm Coffee’s last day of trading at TOFS was on July 14, and they are carrying out a refit at the riverside property before throwing open the doors on their new venture.

Laura Olley, owner of the online arts and crafts shop Yarns of Anarchy, felt compelled to help them bridge the period of adjustment without suffering hardship.

She told the Times: “As a loyal customer, and small business owner myself, I couldn’t help but sympathise when I learned they were moving.

“It’s hard to save money as a small business and even harder to be closed for several weeks while they make this transition.

“As a community we are raising money to help them cover the staff’s paid holiday while they’re closed so the staff don’t leave them and have to look for other jobs. Not to mention their own salaries, especially with a young baby.”

She added: “My weekly Thursday morning knit group – there’s more than 20 of us – has really appreciated the kind hospitality and delicious food and drinks over the years they’ve hosted us.”

Mr Leeper and Ms Derrick met while they were working at the FCB café inside Tonbridge railway station five years ago.

They have a five-month-old daughter, -Evangeline, and were keen to take over Gilbert House so they could remain in the area and avoid upheaval for the young family.

The alterations to Gilbert House, which is owned by Tonbridge Baptist Church and also houses the Tonbridge Counselling Service, will make it more accessible to parents with buggies and be cycle-friendly.

Mr Leeper said: “We obviously cannot afford to be closed for too long and we have the team to look out for too. We are aiming to open in the first week of August.

“We sat down with Laura and voiced our concern for our staff during our downtime.

“With our consent she has created a crowdfund that is solely for the welfare of all the team.

He added: “Over the last couple of months they have been nothing short of incredible, putting in ridiculous shifts when there was uncertainty over their jobs and going above and beyond.

“We really want to look after them by providing paid holiday, something that is very hard to do when you are not trading.”

Mr Leeper added: “Our customers are very excited for our move and new location.

“Most people are very keen to see how we can make the space our own and have been very supportive and generous.”

For more information about the campaign, visit

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