A MODEL and actor has gone into business in her home town after opening a cafe.

Laura Pears, 30, who has appeared in ITV’s Vera and the BBC children’s show The Dumping Ground, has opened D’Dees Cafe in Eston, Middlesbrough, after spending 11 months earning qualifications through a local council’s Youth Employment initiative (YEI).

The cafe is named after her daughters – D for Danielle and Dee for Dekota.

The Northern Echo: Laura Pears at D'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Picture: Stuart BoultonLaura Pears at D'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Picture: Stuart Boulton

Ms Pears, who has lived in Grangetown, Whale Hill and South Bank, explained she has invested everything she has into the café and transformed a building on Eston High Street, on the town’s precinct.

“I was up until 4.20am the night before our first day and walked back in at 6.20am for an 8.30am opening,” said Laura, who is about to appear in an independent feature film, “It’s been full on ever since.

“I’ve been up all hours but I don’t mind – I’m throwing absolutely everything I have into it. It’s taken a year of hard work and every penny I have and much more just to get to this stage.”

The Northern Echo: Laura Pears at D'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Photograph: Stuart BoultonLaura Pears at D'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

Ms Pears, who modelled as one of the‘faces’ of Dalton Park shopping centre in County Durham as part of a three-year advertising campaign with an advert due to be re-released, said she was the YEI team’s longest client.

“I had support getting lots of qualifications in food hygiene, business, health and safety, first aid, you name it.

“I also had great help with my business plan from Maria Lannon from support group, the Business Revolution and I’ve borrowed to get this place up to scratch.

“It was a right state. The builders were working on it right until the last minute.

“My YEI advisor, Craig Dring, gave me a £50 voucher for ‘exceptional progress’ which I then invested in food for the café the week after we opened and I even borrowed £30 from my sister in Portugal to ensure we were properly stocked.”

The Northern Echo: D'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Picture: Stuart BoultonD'Dee's Cafe in Eston. Picture: Stuart Boulton

So far, the hard work is paying off.

“We had customers right from day one,” said Ms Pears. “We need permission to put out boards to help spread the word more, but there’s nothing as good as word of mouth.

“We have really good, reasonably priced food – all homemade on the day including the chips! - and word is getting around. We even have a Victorian Jacket Potato machine which is very popular.

Laura has had grants from Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s High Street Support scheme and the Routes to Employment scheme.

She has also had support from The Prince’s Trust.

D’ Dee’s Cafe is available for food catering work and can be contacted on 07565-346584.

For information visit her Facebook and Instagram sites on @ddeescafe

For more information on the initiative email YEI@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk