Board games enthusiasts rallied round a new cafe and raised more than £3,000 to help pay for running costs.

Geek Retreat in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, was launched by Matthew Wellington and his wife Andra Gheorghe in July last year.

But just as the business was started to get going, the Omicron strain of coronavirus struck and this led to a reduction in footfall.

As a result the couple launched a gofundme page with the aim of bringing in £10,000, which was supported by customers.

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They donated £3,395 which kept the shop going over the Christmas period and into the new year.

The gofundme page said: “We thought by opening at the end of July our business would not really be hit by any of the massive Covid issues. How wrong we were.

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“We are in a position right now where we have started our business with zero and although we started to do pretty well and built some great communities the Covid struggles have now hit us. We understand this is a tough time for everybody and we will be thankful for whatever anybody can help us with.”

Mr Wellington said: “We are very grateful for the donations which have helped to tide us over and we are now waiting for Oxford to fully come back to life.

“We have a lot of people coming here who play Magic: The Gathering and some of them made some quite big donations.

“Things were going well and we were just getting to where we needed to be when the new variant came along and very quickly we lost about 60 per cent of our sales.

“I’m glad to say business is picking up once again and we have just had a very busy Saturday.”

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Mr Wellington said the cafe has space to host 52 people and some players stay for hours.

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They are encouraged to buy the cafe’s coffee, hot snacks and other drinks during their gaming sessions.

There are discounts for students, the cafe sells board games and hosts groups playing Dungeons and Dragons and other popular games.

While Thirsty Meeples in Gloucester Green provides competition, Mr Wellington said he liked to work with all competitors, including the Mystic Games shop in Witney.

“The bigger the games community the better it is for all of us,” Mr Wellington added.

“We are often very busy in the evenings but a little quieter during the day and would love it if students came here to take a break.

“They can play games, plug in their laptops, have a coffee and play on our games consoles.”

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Mr Wellington and his wife, who live in Northampton, employ five members of staff to help them run the cafe.

It is now open from 12 noon to 11pm on Sunday to Thursday, and from noon to midnight on Friday and Saturday.