AN “inspirational” Wallasey mum who defied the odds after breaking her back in a freak accident is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her sandwich shop business.
It was feared Paula Smith would never walk again after a bone in the bottom of her back disintegrated during a day out.
But after a seven-hour operation and two months recovering, Mrs Smith got back to work – starting in a bakery where she worked her way up to become a manager then later working in a bank.
Before her accident she had owned and run her own beauty salon and her desire to run her own business never left her.
It led her to open Let’s Lunch in the Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre in Birkenhead.
Ms Smith, 43, who is married to Lee and is mum to Harvey, five, said: “I will never forget the words of my doctor when I finally left hospital.
“He told me ‘You are a very lucky lady. Only one per cent of people walk out of here, 99% don’t, they are in wheelchairs or worse for the rest of their lives.’
“That has stuck with me and stuck with me in a positive way.
“I absolutely love food and enjoy cooking so I thought about a restaurant but realised the initial outlay was such a lot and it is very unsociable hours, so someone suggested a sandwich shop to me and I thought – why not?”
A decade on, Paula estimates she has made close to 500,000 since she opened the doors of Let’s Lunch.
She said: “It hasn’t all been plain sailing. When I first opened, for the first six months, I was working in the shop six days a week and in the kitchen on a Sunday making all the homemade soups for the following week and going to the cash and carry.
“Now I have a terrific team working for me which makes life a lot easier.
“It is hard to believe it has been 10 years – the time has flown by and I have really enjoyed it.”
Derek Millar, commercial director for The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, said: “Paula’s story is inspirational and it is heart warming to hear of how her terrible accident has left her with such drive and positivity to succeed.”