Our History

Anne & Jennie outside the chip shop before extension work

Anne and Bob Wallace moved to Taylor’s fish and chip shop on Woodley Precinct in 1986 with Anne’s mum and dad (Jennie and Albert).

When Albert died; Anne took over running the business and realised that retaining staff was a huge issue. She has two choices: sell up or make a change. You can see Anne talking about this time (and also how the shop use to look before the extension) by searching for “Startingpoint – 2012 Adult Learners’ Week award winner” on You Tube.

As the You Tube video name suggests, she didn’t sell up. Jennie never did retire and was still seen frying fish and chips at 91 years old. By investing in training and staff Anne doubled the turnover of Taylors in less than a year and it was time to expand. In 2008/2009 she and Bob remortgaged their house to build the extension you see today, on a building that will never belong to them. Later we talk about expectations and passion, hopefully, you are already seeing why our community is important to us.

By 2009, business was good but the recession was taking a toll on Woodley Precinct. Townsend Television Rental used occupied number 4-5 Woodley Precinct, but had recently closed down. This gave Anne the perfect opportunity to make a training centre dream a reality.

By listening to locals, Anne knew that people wanted a coffee shop – somewhere they could sit, meet friends and have a good quality coffee.

We knew that a coffee shop on its own might not work and the space was too big for a training centre so both Start Point coffee shop and Starting Point Community Learning Partnership were born.

Anne’s daughter Nicola had recently returned from London having worked as a trainer and having recently welcomed her son Oliver. It made sense for Nicola to take control of the training organisation.

Since then, both businesses have gone from strength to strength; we have weathered a recession, losses, sickness and a pandemic to be the team we are today. We have won countless awards for our approach to community learning (including an OBE for Anne, recognising her commitment to training) and are proud to hold a 5 star hygiene rating in our coffee shop. This is a business grown from family. Members of the team past and present carried Jennie’s coffin at her funeral at St Mark’s Church. Compassion, respect, and support are attributes we hold dear.

As we grow, we encourage our staff team to remember what sparked what has been achieved. That desire for a place to rise in the darkest of times, to support people when they need it the most, and to welcome anyone who wants to be a part of it all. Welcome, and hope you are looking forward to being part of our story.