Loopy Lorna’s founder Gaynor Salisbury: a tribute

Gaynor Salisbury named Loopy Lorna's after her mum. Picture: TSPL
Gaynor Salisbury named Loopy Lorna's after her mum. Picture: TSPL
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THE founder of an award-winning tea house has died at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer.

Gaynor Salisbury first opened Loopy Lorna’s as a restaurant in 2001 at Stockbridge’s Deanhaugh Street, but the business lasted only a year.

Her dream was to create an Alice in Wonderland-style cafe, something she achieved when she opened new Loopy Lorna’s branches in Morningside Road and at Church Hill Theatre.

The establishments were named after her mother, Lorna, who died from cancer in 1997.

Photographs of Lorna graced the walls of the quirky tea houses, popular for their colourful doilies, tablecloths, tea cosies and fine china.

The interior and traditional home-bakes were Ms Salisbury’s way of putting her difficult childhood behind her.

She had grown up on a tough housing estate in Liverpool, living on benefits after her father walked out on the family when she was just six months old.

The family was so poor that the household treat was homebaking – an evident inspiration to Ms Salisbury.

Ms Salisbury was the first member of her family to go to university, starting a psychology degree at Stirling before switching to entrepreneurial studies.

Afterwards she travelled a lot, spending a period as a saleswoman in Harrods, working in the kitchens of Holloway prison in London and running a bed and breakfast in Margate, Kent, before moving with her mother to Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire.

The Loopy Lorna’s tea houses, frequented by locals, tourists and Fringe artists alike, attracted various accolades.

In October 2010, Ms Salisbury won an Entrepreneur of the Year award, while her head chef, Michelle Phillips, won casual dining chef of the year at the Scottish Chef Awards the previous year.

In 2012, the Church Hill Loopy Lorna’s was named Best Independent Eatery of the Year.

As her illness progressed, Ms Salisbury closed the Morningside Road branch in 2011 and the Church Hill venue in November last year.

Scores of friends and family members gathered for a funeral service at Mortonhall Crematorium last week.

Ms Salisbury, who was divorced, is survived by daughters Hanneke and Rowan and her sister Denise.

Her death, after a prolonged battle with secondary liver cancer, was announced last week on Loopy Lorna’s Facebook page.

A statement read: “It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss to announce that Gaynor Salisbury, founder of Loopy Lorna’s, died peacefully at home on February 21.

“Gaynor was a proud and loving mum to Hanneke and Rowan, loving sister, entertaining Aunty, and fabulous friend to so many.”