David puts big business career on ice to return to his seafront roots

David Freer is the new owner of the Octagon in Exmouth

Look who's back! David Freer is the new owner of the Octagon in Exmouth - Credit: David Freer

After a 50-year career in big business, Exmouth man David Freer has gone back to where it all began for him… selling ice creams.

As a young man, David worked for Bernard Hughes OBE at the popular Orcombe Point Cafe, but his ambitions took him to pastures new, including a stint in Northern Ireland.

However, he has now put away his briefcase and returned to his roots as the new owner of the Octagon cafe on the seafront.

And David won’t be short of assistants as he has also raised seven children, who are now aged between 15 and 30.

He and his family have spruced up the Octagon and have been busy serving up refreshments to locals and staycationers.

David said: “In 1979 I worked at the Orcombe Point Cafe for Bernard Hughes who bought four businesses along the seafront. I then travelled all over the UK in several retail roles but always wanted to sell ice cream on the beach again.

“I’m proud to say that I am the new owner of the Octagon on the seafront which my old boss Bernard ran for almost 50 years.”

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David started his retail career in 1981 working for H. Samuel jewellers on Exeter High Street 1996.

He held various management and area management roles all over the UK including in Northern Ireland.

David also ran and sold a reusable nappy laundry business that specialised in retail and wholesale products as well as rolling out a franchise business. 

His last job before retiring was in a general management role for Boots in Exeter High Street.

David, who was born and raised in Exmouth and also has two grandchildren, said: “By a quirk of fate my job in retail ended where it began and so my ice cream selling career will begin where it ended!”

He said: “Entertaining the family will now be a lot easier and you may even see some of them working alongside me handing out the 99’s, coffees and smiles!”

Born in Wales, Bernard Hughes is a well known and popular character in Exmouth.

He served on East Devon District council between 1983 and 2007 and, upon his retirement, was awarded honorary Alderman status.

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