BEING part of the local community was extremely important to Claire Valentine and Alan Donald, who both decided to open a thriving community hub in Langport.

In June 2019, the couple opened The Bridge Bakery and Canteen Langport for people to enjoy a range of baked goods and light early-doors suppers.

The building itself was part of the old weighbridge and then opened as an information centre 20 years ago.

Once the council sold the information centre, Alan and Claire got in touch and decided to rent the building.

Alan said: “I wanted to continue with community-led things, as it was an information centre before.”

Alan and Claire offer their canteen to many different clubs, societies and so on. They have had a green party meeting, a singing club and have even got someone coming along to do face yoga!

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Claire added: “We’ve lived here a long time and we love Langport so we want to do things that are fun for the community. We want to develop this and perhaps do more in the evenings.

“I love it when someone sits down, and someone sits next to them and then they start talking to each other - it’s really fun. You suddenly find people in a big group, who have never met each other before engrossed in a conversation.”

Being part of the community is a huge part of Claire and Alans aim at The Bridge Bakery and Canteen. But they also want to make sure the look after the community – by being as environmentally friendly as possible.

Alan said: “Most of the décor has been made with friends help. We sourced all the materials and a lot of it is reclaimed. We are also making sure we are getting the food as fresh as possible, as local as possible and as much of it as possible.

“We are very mindful of our environmental footprint and we want to try and limit it as much as possible. We know we’ve got a way to go, but we are just finding our feet and finding out exactly what people do want.”

Claire added: “We are now working with Plotgate. We are quite excited about this. They will present us with what they’ve got, and we will cook from it. One of the reasons we don’t have a set menu is because we will work with what comes in. We are trying to keep it as local as we can. Keep down as many air miles as we can, we don’t use any cling film. We can’t avoid plastic, but we are very mindful. When we source something, we check their packaging as well as their produce.”

The pair also source a still and a sparkling white wine that is made in Aller at Smith and Evans. Alan and Claire picked the grapes themselves last year and now have the wine to prove it.

Claire, who has taken on the role of Head Chef, has also fallen in love with using sourdough. She makes sourdough loaves which can be brought from the canteen, as well as a range of baked items to eat, such as bruschetta.

She explained: “I love working with sourdough. I love the alchemy of it, it depends on the temperature outside and the atmosphere and so on. It is a little bit more edgy than standard yeast. All our bruschetta and so on is always sourdough.”

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The pair also cater mainly for vegetarians and vegans – but do make sure they have meat options and will always offer a traditional bacon roll of course.

Alan said: “There’s not many other people that cater for vegetarians. We don’t want to copy people or take customers from other businesses, we just want to encourage people to come to Langport. We want to fill the gap.

“We decided that there isn’t really anywhere in Langport to eat out unless you go for a big meal. And we felt there would be a demand for people who just fancied something after work. So, we’re doing whatever we are cooking on the day really. It’s not steak and chips, it’s a bit more refined.

“Claire has always been really interested in food, I mean she’s really in her element here. We are joint-owners, but I am much happier making things in terms of wooden structures, tables and so on. I get all the handyman jobs, as well as a trip to the butchers when we run out of bacon!”

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