A NEW CAFE has opened in Royal Wootton Bassett aimed specifically at people with food allergies.

Dandelion, a gift shop that has been in the town for the past three decades, now has somewhere for coeliacs, vegans and others with special dietary needs to stop and enjoy a snack.

The idea came to owner Hazel Newson when she found herself in a café in Reading that catered for people with food allergies.

“I got so excited about it,” she said.

She was diagnosed as a coeliac three years ago and since then has found eating out a struggle.

“I get so irritated that you can’t just go somewhere and have a nice cake and cup of coffee with a friend,” she told the Advertiser.

“If you go out for a meal it is just a nightmare, you almost dread it.

“There are lots of things you can buy in a supermarket but it is not somewhere you can go and share a snack with a friend.”

So when she discovered the café in Reading she decided to do some research and see whether she could bring something similar to Bassett and keep the shop.

“We thought we could do both really. We have a lot of people coming in here on a regular basis to have a chat.”

After a year of visiting exhibitions, doing tastings and learning about different ingredients and conditions, the café was launched at the end of last month.

The cakes come from a specialised supplier in Bristol to cut the risk of cross contamination.

“It is important to be sure,” Hazel said.

“There’s been an amazing reaction. We’ve had all sorts of people coming in so excited. It’s been shared on social media and every day we have more people.”

“The gift shop is still running almost as much as it did before, we’ve just cleared a small area in the front and put in tables.”

Now she is looking into adding savoury dishes to the menu, but more careful research is needed before they can be included.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition and affects around one in every hundred people in the UK. It is caused by an adverse reaction to the gluten found in wheat, barley and rye.

Gluten is often in cakes, bread and pasta and causes digestive problems including abdominal pain and bloating and can even lead to malnutrition.

“I knew what a pain it was but you are never aware of how many other people are in the same position,” said Hazel.

“This is so important. We have had such a tremendous response, much more than I could ever have imagined, which is fantastic.”