THE owner of a Cumbrian tea room is celebrating after marking 17 years of business

Andi Keen officially launched the House of Meg Tea Room in 2007 when he was just 21, as he sought to continue his love affair with baking that started as a child thanks to his grandmother Betty.

It offers locals and visitors to Hadrian's Wall a wide selection of lunch time meals and snacks, as well as a range of homemade goods. 

Andi previously worked at the Gilsland Spa Hotel as a head waiter but he made the plunge to take over at the listed building in 2006, before opening House of Meg a year later.

He said: "The opportunity came along to open up a tea room in the village. I decided to go ahead with it. I wanted somewhere where anyone could come in and relax or work with a homely atmosphere.

"I was 21 when we opened and I had a lot of support from my family and close friends.

"One of the main reasons I love baking is because of my grandmother Betty who taught me how to bake when I was little. The love started from there and I'd wanted to do something like this ever since."

After establishing a regular customer base in the first couple of years, Andi was able to grow and improve things, and he feels the local support has been vital in keeping the business thriving.

He added: "The local support has been fantastic. If it wasn't for the locals, I think some years we wouldn't have survived. I'm really grateful for that."

The pandemic forced Andi to close but once they reopened it was like a 'brand new start', as walkers flocked to the countryside to see Hadrian's Wall when restrictions were lifted.

Andi, who has lived in Gilsland his whole life, is excited about the prospect of The Samson Inn reopening, in the hope that they can work together.

After reaching 17 years at House of Meg, his love of baking has not diminished and he still loves serving the local community.