A CAKE decorator who was forced to seek a new career after a life-changing illness is hoping to thank villagers with a festive day out after the success of her driveway business.

Nicola Littlejohn, 50, of Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, opened her mobile tea room, called Violet, the Vintage Caravan, on her driveway last month.

The mother-of-two has worked as cake decorator since 2015, but only took up the art after giving birth to her son, William, 12 years ago.

Nicola was left in a life-threatening condition before his birth after suffering a brain haemorrhage, forcing doctors to perform an emergency Caesarean.

Husband Marc was told to prepare for the worst, but against the odds, Nicola pulled through.

The illness also impacted William, who now requires round-the-clock care after being diagnosed with autism

The haemorrhage also had an effect on Nicola’s memory making it impossible for her to return to an office job.

However, after making cupcakes for her son’s school fair, Nicola discovered her new calling.


After running her own bespoke designer cake decorating business - NJL Creations - Nicola decided to open her own mobile tea room in May 2019.

Last year, she toured the area with Violet, which is named after her grandmother, and regularly pitched up every Thursday at town markets.

However, the pandemic has had a massive toll on Nicola and her family.

Marc, who works as a critical care nurse, contracted Covid-19 and was separated from the family for ten weeks after moving to live and work at his hospital.

The lockdown also had a massive impact on the wedding industry meaning Nicola lost almost all her business.


Town markets also closed, so she decided to open Violet on her driveway and she said she has been overwhelmed by support.

Nicola said: “After losing all my business this year I decided to open Violet on my drive to serve my home-made cakes, savouries, hot food and drinks.

“With the wonderful support of the village it has become an amazing success.”

Nicola decided to thank them by hosting a Santa’s grotto event.


She decided to convert her home’s cart lodge into a grotto and is hoping to raise money for the foodbank based at St Andrew’s Church in Halstead.

Children across the village are invited to go to meet Santa on December 5 and 6. Now 132 children are expected to visit after filling up the slots in just 30 minutes.

Nicola added: “We are not charging to see Santa or for the children to receive a gift, but if anyone would like to make a donation, these will be going to the food bank”.

However, the event hinges on restrictions brought in by the Government after lockdown ends on December 2.

She said: “If we can’t do it, the children will still get their gifts hand delivered to their home by one of our elves.”

  • The Gazette is backing businesses as part of our Love Local Business campaign, which is sponsored by A-Plan, FJG and LKA.