Monday, 27 September 2021

Café couple celebrate retirement

A COUPLE who ran a Henley café for 21 years threw a party to celebrate their retirement.

A COUPLE who ran a Henley café for 21 years threw a party to celebrate their retirement.

Dozens of customers attended the celebration at the café at the M&Co clothes store in Bell Street on Thursday last week to say their goodbyes to Ken and Margaret Hockley.

The couple, from Aldworth, near Goring, took over responsibility for the café in 1994. At the time, the store was McIlroy’s. This was taken over by Mackays, now M&Co, three years later.

Before they took over the café, the couple had run a hotel in Wiltshire. Mr Hockley, 81, said: “I was 60 when we left the hotel. It was 365 days a year, 24 hours a day so we decided running a café would be nicer.

“We’ve really enjoyed running it, otherwise we wouldn’t have carried on for so long. Henley is a lovely place and we have some lovely customers. They are more like friends now.

“We have a dedicated clientele and we’re different from all the chains because everything we serve is made fresh on the premises. That’s how we’ve kept customers.” The couple’s three children, Shelley, Yasmin and Paul, and granddaughter Polly all attended the party. Shelley and Paul have both worked at the café.

Mr Hockley said he would miss working at the café but would enjoy his retirement.

He said: “We’re looking forward to retirement but it’s tinged with sadness. We’ve made so many friends over the years.

“We live in a lovely part of the country so we will go for walks and I’m going to take up watercolour painting again. And, of course, we will visit Henley to see our friends.” Customer June Horwood, of Reading Road, Henley, said: “I’ve been coming here for years. It’s a nice, relaxing place with no loud music and all the food is fresh.

“I’ll miss Ken and Margaret as they were always very cheerful but I’ll still give it a go under the new chap.”

Eleanor Bedwin, of Victoria Court, Henley, added: “I will miss them terribly and can’t believe they’re going. Margaret is a fantastic baker and you get such a friendly welcome no matter who you are.”

The new manager of the café will be Ben Rose.

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