“Tell me something about winning the award, what was that like?”
“Stunning,” says Mark, “absolutely stunning. I was amazed at how the Challenge had actioned so much. When I heard we were one of the winners I was overwhelmed. I knew we had made progress but didn’t think we’d actually made the top six. The idea of judging it was bit alien to me because there were so many worthy projects but I’m pleased we’ve got the capital.”
“Two things: what would you have done if you hadn’t won and what will you spend the money on?”
“If we hadn’t won we would have applauded those who had. It wasn’t as if we were going to just walk away, we are integral to what YES does and we have the support of the trustees here at The Edge. We are all passionate about what we are trying to achieve with this. And the money? We are going to do some strategic planning to make sure that chunk of money is well used, potentially to search for match funding. That prize is now proof to others that we are achieving something special, that it’s got legs. Hopefully our model should be attractive to other funders too.”
“And what has been the best bit for you?”
Mark doesn’t hesitate. “The best bit,” he says, holding back a tear, “has been doing it with my son. It’s been amazing. This time last year I was in a difficult place, personally. So it’s been a vehicle for me to start thinking positively again.”
Until now we’ve had the café to ourselves. As our conversation draws to a close, a middle-aged man walks in.
“Are you looking for a brew?” asks Mark.
“Yeah. Go on then. I’ll have a coffee.”
“How do you take it?”
I’ve been trying to find a few minutes to nip over the road and photograph Becky and Erin-May. Angela called this morning and Becky apparently had not had a good night with her baby… and her ex had been round. It’s now late afternoon and Angela has telephoned again. I’m given the nod. Outside, as well as declaring Aryden’s menu, the chalkboard today reads, ‘Enjoy life’s simple pleasures’.
As Becky is getting herself ready for tonight’s do she tells me a bit more about her turbulent relationship. “I know where he’ll be now,” she says. “In the garden of some pub, in the sunshine, with his mates.” Erin-May is in her walker, making best use of the wooden floor now the rug has been rolled up. “Our relationship was crazy. It was like Eastenders, Coronation Street and Shameless all rolled into one.”
Becky looks out of her window at The Edge. Most people have left now, either to prepare the function room at The Berry Head Hotel, or to get their posh frocks on. “Do you know how nice it is to watch all the stuff out of my own window? Once, when I’d just split up with my daughter’s father and Angela had been counselling me, I lifted up my blinds one morning and there was a chalk picture of a big love heart with an arrow through the middle saying, ‘Firing arrows of love over to Becky and Erin-May’. Just little things like that. I just wept it was so cool.”
I can’t get over how eloquent Becky is, how open, how easily she tells a story, her story. “You know you should write things down,” I suggest.
“I’ve thought about that. At night when she’s asleep – she’s down by 7.30 – I’ve got nothing to do, I’m bored.” I tell her about blogging, about the blogs that mums (and dads) write. Although she has no computer she could use the one across the road at YES except, of course, she needs to be home, babysitting.