Peterhead coffee chain owner's 'brew-tiful' way to thank stroke charity

For 15 years, Paul Haggath (44), from Peterhead, has thrown all his energy into growing a successful chain of coffee shops in the North-east of Scotland.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 7:00 am
Paul Haggath's chain of coffee shops is donating 25p from every takeaway drink sold.

When he isn’t serving up lattes, Paul is busy with his family, wife Wendy and four daughters and finds time to keep fit with regular visits to the gym.

But three years ago, Paul suffered a stroke that left him paralysed on the bathroom floor.

Now he wants to repay leading health charity Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland for the help they gave him during his recovery.

The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland logo now features on Symposium's takeaway cups.

And what better way to do that than by serving up delicious cups of takeaway coffee?

Symposium Coffee House – which began life as just one store in his home town of Peterhead and is now a chain of 10 across Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray – has named Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland as its charity of the month for May.

That means 25p from every single takeaway drink is being donated to the charity, with each cup also bearing the distinctive Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland logo.

Paul said: “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland helped me a lot when I was recovering, and I wanted to give something back.

Paul with his wife Wendy, and their four daughters.

"I did some charity events before my stroke, including a marathon, sky-diving and bungee jumping. But selling coffee to help them is a lot easier.

“We have our own branded coffee cups, which my niece and nephew now produce with our own designs.

"Our customers love our designs, and we thought using the cups would be a good way to promote a charity.

“We obviously want to raise as much money as possible, but more importantly, we want to raise awareness of stroke and its effects. That can make such a difference.”

Symposium now has a chain of 10 coffee houses across Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray.

Awareness is key for Paul. He puts much of his own recovery down to the quick actions of wife Wendy, who knows what stroke symptoms look like and called an ambulance immediately when she found Paul slumped behind their bathroom door.

He recalls that moment in January 2018...

“We had family visiting and the plan was for everyone to go for breakfast to one of our shops,” said Paul.

"I didn’t feel that great and initially said I’d stay home. Then I changed my mind and went to get ready.

“The next thing I was paralysed down my right-hand side. I was on the floor and couldn’t move or speak.

"Wendy could see me through the frosted glass door and managed to unlock the door and call 999.

“I was passing in and out of consciousness, but I think I felt at peace.

"I’m a Christian and I didn’t feel worried about what was happening because I have a strong belief.”

Paul was taken to hospital and had thrombolysis within three hours. This is the process where a clot-busting drug is administered to disperse the clot that caused the stroke and return the blood supply to the brain.

His speech and movement were quick to return, and he was released from hospital after just two days.

Weekly visits from a Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland stroke nurse to help with his recovery started soon after.

While Paul is generally fit and healthy, he had been feeling unwell in the months before the stroke.

He believes the stroke was probably stress-related as he and Wendy were pushing hard to expand the business – they had opened an additional three shops in 2017 alone.

And it’s because of his age and general good health that he wants to make others in a similar position to learn about how stroke can strike so suddenly and how quick action can be effective in aiding recovery.

He says: “We started Symposium Coffee House because we think everyone deserves great coffee, no matter where they live.

"Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland thinks everyone deserves great outcomes from stroke, and that’s something I can most definitely agree with.

“Together we can hopefully make a difference.”

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Community & Events Fundraiser (North East) Oliver Middleton said: “It is a wonderful gesture from Paul and his family business to make Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland their charity of the month and we are very grateful.

“Paul’s story is a great example of no life half lived and that’s what Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is all about.

"We want people to do more than survive after a stroke, we want them to really live. The money raised from this initiative will help stroke survivors in the community to do just that.”

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland vital services to support people and their families who are living with effects of serious chest and heart conditions and stroke.

Its services are focused on making sure everyone in Scotland gets the care and support they need, when and where they need it.