AN ARCHAEOLOGIST is hoping to dig out a new career as a chocolate maker in the remote Northumberland village of Allendale.
Frances Wood, 26, has had a lifelong passion for sweetmeats and decided to open Twilight Chocolates when she went on a chocolate making course in February.
She said: “I have always been a keen baker but didn’t think about turning my hobby into a career until attending the course, where I received a lot of advice on what I would need to start-up a business.
“Although I like my profession, I have always had a great passion for baking. I also like the thought of being my own boss full time.”
Tomorrow she launches her treats at the Pebbles Gallery and Art Centre in Allendale as part of its annual Christmas fair and is confident that they will prove a big hit with visitors.
Frances, who currently works as a site archaeologist for North Pennines Archaeology, funded the launch of the business herself but is in the process of applying for a grant from Business Link North East to pay for half of the costs and buy equipment so she can up her turnover.
Although the store will at first serve only Allendale, Frances hopes to set up shops in nearby Hexham and Corbridge, which will allow her to give up archaeology and become a full-time chocolatier.
She said: “Although it is very early, I can’t see why the business can’t be successful. People from the kind of areas I would like to set up in appreciate small self-run shops rather than the big stores.”
Frances is also working on a new website with the help of her neighbour, aerial photographer Philip Rawson, who has also designed her shop posters.
She said: “Philip has been a great help. Living in a small village all the neighbours are friends and always do what they can to support each other. Philip is one of these people that can turn his hand to anything.”
She also received guidance from her parents during the start-up process. Her mother, Sue, is a freelance architect and provided some basic pointers on going it alone, while her father, Charles, is a primary teacher and gave her tips on risk management.