A venture, full of fun, bubbles and fizz is now proving to be a lasting legacy to a mum-of-two, thanks to her friend and business partner.
Just months after Louise McParland launched a mobile gin and Prosecco bar with her friend Gillian Bartlett, she sadly lost her battle with cancer.
But Gillan is continuing the vision of their new business Copa Fizz and is determined to do her friend proud.
Gillian, of Preston, explains: “In February 2017, both Louise and I knew we were going to be made redundant from our jobs in the financial services.
“When we saw an advert for a vintage coach converted into a cocktail bar, Louise said we can do that and it would be so much fun. We would bring happy moments in people’s lives, which was very appealing as we were having a rubbish time at work.
“We decided on a gin and Prosecco bar as Louise loved Prosecco and I love gin.
There is the sadness of losing Louise but when I go out and do this, it is always for happy occasions and it helps to balance out the sadness of our journey.Gillian Bartlett
“For our name, we wanted to marry the two together.
“We looked at different associations and came up with Copa, (which is Spanish for gin glass) Fizz (bubbles and tonic).
“We researched converted vehicles and in July 2017, we came across The Big Coffee Company, in Hull, who built to specification, specialising in Prosecco carts. We went for a three-wheeler Piaggio Ape Classic and that August, we had our first event at Cedar Farm, Mawdesley, to celebrate its 30th birthday.”
Following Louise’s death, Gillian, 45, now runs the bar on her own, with help from family and friends or agency staff.
She has covered many large events over the past 18 months, including a party in the park to celebrate Wigan Athletic’s promotion into League One last May.
Gillian adds: “The biggest audience was at the party in the park, organised by Wigan Council. There was about 15,000 people there.
“I was lucky to have a pitch next to the tent where the players and their families were.
“I can say they enjoyed a good gin and tonic.”
She adds she has also been at housing developers’ open events, weddings, and has even been asked to attend children’s parties, supplying drinks to parents.
As Copa Fizz has grown, Gillian has added more flavours and lines of gin and loves trying new things.
She says: “I work with local gin distilleries: Black Powder, in Weeton, Brindle Distillery, which makes Cuckoo and Batch Brew in Burnley. In the summer, I will be using Goosnargh Gin and Ribble Valley Gin.
“We started off with the concept of seven deadly gins but now it has evolved, with more gins available.
“I love selling people the idea of new gins. A few people say they don’t like gin, but now it has developed, as there are fruit flavours, industrial strength brands and London gins.
“I used to be a wine drinker but I love a good gin and tonic. It resonates with a classic British summer.
“I like the variety of flavours and there is so much adaptability. Depending on what you mix with it can really enhance it or kill it, so I like experimenting and serving it in different ways.”
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Gillian enjoys the social side and adds it helps in her healing process of losing Louise, of New Longton.
She is also a strong supporter of Rosemere Cancer Foundation, which provided help and treatment for Louise.
She raised £4,150 last March when she launched a fruity gin in honour of her business partner and she held a food and drink festival at The Inn at Whitewell in October, raising £1,500.
She admits: “There is the sadness of losing Louise but when I go out and do this, it is always for happy occasions and it helps to balance out the sadness of our journey.
“She would be proud that I am doing this. She enjoyed it but sadly she didn’t get much chance to do it as just as we were getting going, she became quite poorly and died the following January.
“I now want to continue fund-raising in Louise’s memory.”