Northumberland entrepreneur creates new business around self-catering accommodation in converted Co-op delivery lorry
It’s not easy making a full-time living on the Northumberland coast, despite its popularity as a summer visitor destination.
George Robertson, grew up at Embleton Mill Farm and, like many other young people, was faced with the prospect of moving away to make a living.
However, his entrepreneurial vision is now starting to pay dividends.
His quirky self-catering accommodation in a converted Co-op delivery lorry, together with a takeaway coffee kiosk and Embers, his wood fired pizza oven in a shipping container, is proving a hit with visitors and locals.
A planning application seeking retrospective change of use from garden space to holiday let with associated hot food takeaway at Eleanors Byre, Spitalford, was recently welcomed by Craster Parish Council.
Cllr Bev Blythe said: “As a local resident and regular patron of Embers and the coffee box, I love to see this sort of initiative and entrepreneurship from our local young people. This is someone who was born here and has a chance to make a living here and won’t have to leave the area. For me, this really adds something."
Cllr Mark Green added: “There are very few opportunities to create new jobs in the community and, in particular, jobs for young people so I think this is the kind of initiative who should be looking to support as a parish council but also as a wider community.”
The application has also received more than 50 letters of support from the local community.
"It’s nice to have had so much support,” admits George. “For any business around here it’s about making sure you cater for both tourists and the locals so it’s nice to feel that people around here want it.”
The Hideout - the off-grid self-catering cabin which also includes a nearby compostable toilet – is getting a makeover in preparation for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions from April 12.
George is expecting a busy summer season given the demand for staycations – which will also be good news for the coffee kiosk and pizza oven.
The venture is a far cry from what the 31-year-old envisaged after graduating with a Masters degree in anthropology from Aberdeen University.
Unfortunately he found it difficult to find a job in that field and eventually returned to Northumberland.
He started doing forestry work but hospitality was where his heart lay, a passion kick-started during his teen days working at The Sportsman Inn in Embleton.
"This was a good opportunity to get back to a way of working that I knew I enjoyed,” he said.
"It’s ended up providing me with full-time employment which I didn’t really think would happen when I set out.
"Undertaking these three projects has provided me, for the first time in my life, with full time self-sufficient employment and a sense of purpose.
“My work brings me an immense sense of satisfaction, not only though the day-to-day tasks and labour but also from seeing new people discover this unparalleled place we live in.
"There has been so much good come from these projects so far and it fills me with optimism knowing that more and more young people are seeing the potential of what we have here in Northumberland.”