An Irishman who previously worked on some of the country’s biggest construction developments, has reinvented himself as an artisan baker and now provides employment for almost 30 people.
During the boom years Simon Stenson (38) worked on major construction projects such as Dublin's Convention Centre before being made redundant. The Mayo resident spent two years on social welfare before embarking on a cookery course.
In a bid to cheer him up, his wife Siobhan bought him a voucher for the course at Ballymaloe House, Co Cork as he had always enjoyed cooking. After an intensive course in professional cookery, the couple decided to open up their own bakery.
He now runs artisan Cherry Blossom Bakery, which employs 12 people and supplies its products to 100 stores. In further boost it was announced on Monday the bakery has created a further 15 jobs.
His wife Siobhan told the Irish Independnt: "When Simon lost his job we were left reeling. Our lifestyle changed completely. It all seemed to happen overnight. We went from two holidays a year to no holidays. I was the only one earning, so times were extremely tough.
"We moved back to Mayo from Dublin so Simon could help out with his brother's painting and decorating business and the future looked very bleak.
"But Simon took to the cookery course like a duck to water. We approached a local SuperValu about providing them with artisan breads and it has gone from there," she said.
"We got a loan from AIB and grants from the Mayo enterprise board. Within four months, the business had grown and we had 30 shops. We were very determined and worked around the clock," she said.
"Simon trained up every member of our staff himself. None of them had any experience in baking. He wanted to give people the opportunity he had been given himself," Stenson said.
The Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, officially opened the company premises at Breaffy Industrial Park in Mayo on Monday.
Watch Simon Stenson talk about his business below.