Katie Cavanna: Celebrating the history of Torbay and looking forward

Let’s start the real resurgence of the English Riviera

Let’s start the real resurgence of the English Riviera - Credit: Getty Images

I have always believed that Torbay’s greatest asset is its people. Juxtaposed alongside breath-taking coastline with the most beautiful nature; our local community is simply outstanding.

The community we are part of is like no other, but sometimes I wonder how proud we are of the beautiful Bay we live in.

Like many other areas, Torbay has its issues. You only have to spend a few minutes on social media to see people want more from the area – so how can we do that?

I have learnt that you cannot wait for things to happen; to make long-lasting and sustainable change, it is all of our responsibility to take action.

A year ago, I walked into an establishment new to Torbay. To say I was unaware of the impact the place and its people would have on me, is an understatement.

The team at WeSUP make things happen and you can’t help but want to be a part of their vision.

WeSUP is a cool, waterside paddleboard centre and coffee house located on the marina in Torquay. WeSUP is designed to inspire humans through stand-up paddleboarding, fitness, human connections, speciality coffee and delicious energy food.

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There’s something about the place; it attracts like-minded individuals whose passion to make Torbay better knows no bounds. I have met the most phenomenal people there and I’m honoured to now call those people friends.

Both of the owners Sean White and Harry James-Mills had a vision for their business in Torbay; adopting a ‘common-sense trans-seasonal’ approach to working in a coastal town.

You cannot fail to be energised when you step through the doors of WeSUP. Greeted like a long-lost family member or best friend, you feel instantly welcomed as you enter the door.

Sean and Harry have a trans-seasonal approach to local business and it’s clear that they have made the most remarkable impact on Torbay already.

WeSUP is a business that seeks to span the seasons, ensuring that both locals and tourists are catered for all year round.

During a conversation with Sean, we spoke in detail about the future of Torbay and how this trans-seasonal approach to business works.

While tourism has to be at the forefront of how Torbay seeks to grow, we are also fully aware that there are parts of our community that may retreat to the hills when the tourists flock.

As I have discussed in previous columns, it is paramount that locals support businesses 365 days of the year – but how do businesses ensure they are doing that?

Sean speaks passionately about a sustainable approach to business – constantly asking how we can modernise coastal culture.

There is an essential need to maintain a close link to the Victorian era sentiment – history and culture of the town, but also the modernisation of the town must also be a priority.

There needs to be a collaboration between modern coastal living and Victoriana - celebrating the history of Torbay and looking forward.

Sean, like many other business owners, knows that he needs to give locals a reason to keep coming back, concentrating on the local economy when the winter months descend upon us.

Businesses on the south coasts need to be providing long-term and sustainable opportunities. In Torbay we have 220,000 opportunities for businesses to connect with locals.

Our lives have changed considerably since Covid, but from this comes a new way of living.

The way we work has changed, our priorities are now different and there is a shift in the way we want to live.

I want to give people a reason to be proud of where they live so why don’t we continue to build a town that the people want?

Torbay was built to serve a purpose, it was built by us and it can be changed by us – let’s make it happen – let’s be proud.

Let’s start the real resurgence of the English Riviera.