Cancer survivor now running a Great Yarmouth community cafe

Supervisor Ju Huggins (second-left) cutting the ribbon at the Cancer Research UK's new coffee shop.

Supervisor Ju Huggins (second-left) cutting the ribbon at the Cancer Research UK's new coffee shop in Gapton Hall, Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

A mother-of-two who overcame cancer is running a new Great Yarmouth cafe close to her heart.

Jo Huggins, 59, is behind the helm of Cancer Research UK’s Coffee Together - based at the charity's Gapton Hall retail park superstore.

The store has raised more than £1m since its opening in 2019 and the national charity hopes further vital funds will flood in due to Coffee Together opening.

Ms Huggins was passionate about the opening of Cancer Research UK's new cafe after she successfully battled uterine cancer.

After visiting her doctor about tiredness and bleeding in June 2019, Ms Huggins was sent to hospital for tests.

Ms Huggins said: "I got the results within a week and two weeks after that I was being operated on.

“My father died of cancer five years ago, my mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law have all died from it, and I’ve lost two very good friends to it.

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“I was very lucky because I was diagnosed early, when it was only stage one cancer. The operation was a success and meant I didn’t have to have any further treatment.

“The journey made me realise life’s too short and you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow."

Supervisor Jo Huggins

Supervisor Jo Huggins (right) with her Coffee Together team (l-r) Steve O'Brien, Shobain Ward, Ellie Jamieson, Beverley Parrott and Paula Folkes. - Credit: Cancer Research UK

With a fresh perspective on things, Ms Huggins decided to give up work in February 2020 and later started volunteering at the superstore.

When plans for the coffee shop came to light, her 26 years of catering and hospitality experience made her an ideal candidate to manage it.

Ms Huggins, who lives in Lowestoft and leads a team of five running the cafe, said: “Money raised by Coffee Together will help more people survive cancer, so I really hope to see lots of local faces popping in for a cuppa.”

With around 37,300 people in the East of England diagnosed with cancer every year, Cancer Research UK relies on public support to continue its life-saving work, funding around half of all publicly funded cancer research in the UK.

Coffee Together is open from 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-3pm on Sundays. Its range of offerings include vegan and gluten-free refreshments. For more information drop by for a chat with Ms Huggins and her team.