People in Cupar are being asked to use the Lighthouse community cafe – or face losing it altogether.
The cafe and Christian bookshop is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this month, and while everyone involved is keen to mark the occasion and recognise the hard work of all staff and volunteers, there are fears that a drop in trade could have serious consequences for the much-loved facility.
Established in December 1987 by a group of people who came together to raise an amazing £25,000 in just six months, the cafe was created in response to a need for a caring community meeting place in Cupar.
Since then the Lighthouse has become a welcoming sanctuary for all kinds of people.
Manager Jane Crockett, who has been at the Lighthouse for 15 years, said she has seen good friendships forged round the cafe’s tables.
“Between 60 and 70 per cent of our customers are regulars, but we even have a couple from Yorkshire who visit every year as well as visitors who always stop in on their way to St Andrews,” she said.
“The whole ethos of the Lighthouse is about caring and sharing - even if that’s just sharing a table with people you don’t know.
“We’re not about making money, we just need enough to keep going,” Jane went on.
“Our prices are kept down, but our products are high quality and home-made, which is something you don’t always get nowadays.
“We’re also very proud of having an Eat Safe award from the Food Standards Agency.”
Jane explained that in addition to her full-time position, the Lighthouse is run by a staff of four part-timers plus a small army of volunteers who work when, and if, they can.
When possible, she also gives work experience to people of all ages and abilities as a way of promoting the inclusive nature of the cafe.
“The Lighthouse gives people the opportunities that may not exist for them elsewhere, we like to welcome people and make them feel wanted,” said Jane.
“For many people a visit here may be the only time they get to speak to someone or see a familiar face.
“We know that lots of people love coming here but the market is changing and I think that’s why were seeing a decline in trade.
“We don’t want to do that or even think about the worst case scenario, but we have to be practical and say to people they need to use this cafe if they want it still to be here in a few years time.”
Jane went on: “Cupar has a very strong community and we are here to promote that.
“Most of our volunteers have church links and we provide a meeting place for people.
“We are having a special Christmas lunch on December 15, held over two sittings, which caters for individuals or groups who may not have anyone to share a Christmas treat with.
“We also have a knitting group that meets here and has a pool of around 27 members.”
Canon Pat McInally, who is on the Lighthouse’s board of trustees, said: “I would hope everyone would see what a valuable asset the Lighthouse is to Cupar and support it.”