I’ve turned Out of Africa into a thriving business

A father who broke his neck twice and feared he would never work again has celebrated his business being open for a year.

Paul Smith started Out of Africa Trading Post, which is based in Wensum Street, Norwich, a year ago.

Mr Smith, who lives in Mulbarton with his wife, Sharon and their daughter, Jessica, 11, said: 'I have broken my neck twice – once in Africa and once in the UK carrying a wardrobe. I have three titanium plates in my neck. I wasn't able to do anything for more than a year; I couldn't walk, I was disabled.'

He underwent surgery in August last year and started his business in October. His operation was a huge success and he has recently started cycling and taking part in charity bike rides.

Out of Africa Trading Post was initially a stall on Norwich market, but due to high demand and the need to expand, he moved into a shop in Wensum Street in May.

Mr Smith, who lived in South Africa for 26 years, said: 'We want to highlight how quick we have progressed. We had two stalls and outgrew them so we looked for a shop. It's a nice community here.'

He runs the business as a sole trader and his wife, Sharon, helps with ordering stock.

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The shop sells handmade gifts and jewellery, and food and drink from Africa. Since moving from the market to the shop, he has started selling artwork and South African wine and beer.

Mrs Smith said: 'Everything is unique. I think we owe the success of the shop to having loyal customers and selling unique products. Word gets around.

'We try and stock items from as many people as possible because they don't have their own shops.'

The shop will be offering discounts on October 8 to celebrate their first anniversary.

• Have you overcome an illness and started a business? Call reporter Lucy Wright on 01603 772495 or email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk