Maria Mc Cormack has had a whirlwind week – but with a little help from friends, she has found the strength to flip around her decision to quit the Happy Camper.
The Churchill pop-up cafe owner this week announced that she was quitting the Happy Camper at Glenveagh National Park, which prompted a large movement of support and kindness.
The sudden announcement shocked many fans of the cheery roadside cafe and many quickly contacted Maria to try to keep her on the road.
Speaking to Donegal Woman today, Maria confirmed that the Happy Camper isn’t going anywhere.
“I’m so happy,” Maria said, “It’s a lesson where it’s okay to ask for help, even though I didn’t. It just came to me.
“I was so ready to quit. I was in the garage on Monday ready to sell the van. On Tuesday, I was so fully sure. I told my family that I can’t keep going.
“I was making no money and working so hard. The Happy Camper always had to be happy, but behind it, nobody knows the stress and hard work involved.”
Maria posted a Facebook status to announce that she would close the cafe in a few weeks’ time, but many people rushed to help and convince her otherwise.
“My friend called me and kept me on the phone for three quarters of an hour and explained how I couldn’t quit my wee caravan just when I’m going into year three.”
Another friend, Chef James Olsen, met with Maria to identify the issues that made her work a daily struggle.
“We sat down and went through everything. From fresh eyes, he showed me how I could make it easier,” Maria said.
James showed Maria how she can reduce her menu, rearrange the layout of her caravan and change her working hours to use her time more efficiently. In this way, she won’t have to spend so many long days out in the winter cold and she can have more time with her nine-year-old son, Ultan.
Fans of the cafe can look forward to seeing the iconic green and white van at holidays and during the summer, while Maria plans to park up the Happy Camper for winter months.
Maria’s despair helped her realise that solutions can be found if she asks for help.
“This has shown me that I can open up and there’s always someone out there who has the answer,” she said.
However, on her first day back Maria said things haven’t all been positive, as one customer suggested she had only quit as a publicity stunt.
“I said, ‘Please understand this is not a joke. If you were at rock bottom as I was this week, and you were ready to give up, you would understand’.”
In all, the week of ups and downs has shown Maria that her community can always keep her beloved Happy Camper alive. She said she is full of gratitude for all her helpful and understanding Happy Campers.
This isn’t the first time that the Donegal community has supported Maria in her hour of need, as a community fundraiser helped save the Happy Camper when the first van was destroyed in an accident last Easter.
The Happy Camper (Mark 2) will be out on the road this Bank Holiday weekend to visit towns and schools around Donegal. There are sure to be plenty of hugs for Maria and happy customers glad to see the famous van back again.
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