TWO new businesses have opened their doors in Blaenavon.

Blaenavon resident Jemma Cantelo and Karen Cook, of Garndiffaith, have both taken up occupation in shops on Broad Street in the world heritage town.

Both owners have been supported by Torfaen’s Communities for Work Plus programme, a Welsh Government funded project which helps local people back into employment.

Mrs Cantelo has opened The Keepers Cafe at number 96, formerly Coffee and Cards.

Supporting her at the official opening of the cafe was former Commonwealth Games gold medallist boxer and friend of the family, Jamie Arthur.

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Mr Arthur also went on to win the Commonwealth Super-bantamweight title in 2010.

Keepers Cafe will offer a selection of homemade cooked meals as well as beautifully cooked jacket potatoes, full breakfasts and baguettes.

Mrs Cantelo will also be providing a delivery service and will be available for contract buffet hire for meetings and networking opportunities.

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(Jemma Cantelo opening The Keepers Cafe on Broad Street supported by friends and family, including former Commonwealth Games gold medalist boxer and friend of the family Jamie Arthur. Picture: Torfaen council.)

She said: “Living and running a business in Blaenavon is a dream come true for me. I’m hoping the café will become a focus for the town and that it will be very well used.

“I must say a huge thank you to Communities for Work Plus who have been on hand to give me the practical funding and help I needed. Thank you!"

Also opening her business was Mrs Cook, who, supported by friends and family, launched Casting Precious Memories at number 36.

The business specialises in providing all types of unique bespoke body casting. The services range from all types of body casting including baby bumps, family casting, linking arms, pet paws and memorial castings.

“I’m so excited to be starting my own business in Blaenavon,” she said. “I’d like to thank Communities for Work Plus for all their support with setting up the business, and funding they provided."

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(Karen Cook opens her bespoke body castings business Casting Precious Memories supported by friends and family. Picture: Torfaen council.)

Executive Member for corporate governance and performance Cllr Alan Jones was also on hand for the opening of both businesses.

He said: "These are yet more great examples of local people having the drive, energy and passion to establish a business.

“This is a great boost for the owners but also for the fantastic town of Blaenavon and adds more opportunities and services for both local residents and also for the wider tourist visitors to the area. Congratulations both"

CfW Plus employability manager Victoria Dyer said: “I am extremely proud of how the CfW Plus programme is able to provide an effective balance of extensive mentoring support and vital funding that enables local people to realise their dreams of self-employment.

“I would like to extend my continued gratitude to Employer Engagement Officer Richard Murphy and the wider team for the excellent support they continue to provide to the residents of Torfaen in their quest for employment."

If you need support to enter the workplace, please contact Communities for Work Plus team on 01495 742131 or 01633 648312. You can also visit the CFW+ website at cfwplustorfaen.co.uk