WHEN her sister was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, Olivia Whittaker was determined that having a food intolerance was not going to mean Charlotte missed out. Olivia started out by making gluten free cakes that her sister, family and friends could enjoy, then in May 2016 she set up her own business Little Liv’s Bakery after her dad converted a former greenhouse at the family farm in Accrington.

She said: “A friend was having their conservatory removed and offered it to us and so my dad knocked down the greenhouse, installed the conservatory and fitted it out as my bakery. All of my baking is gluten free and I also provide vegan cakes, so I could not use the a kitchen in the farmhouse.”

At last year’s Hyndburn Business Awards, Little Liv’s Bakery was a finalist in the Made In Hyndburn category and won the Creative Business title. When Covid took hold, Olivia didn’t know how it was going to impact on her business, but as she works on her own, and had already introduced a postal service, she never stopped working.

She said: “I have baked every day since lockdown, apart from a week-long family holiday. My orders went up, however the price of gluten free products, which are already expensive enough, also went up and when they limited the number of packs of butter people could buy, it made it very difficult for bakers.”

Olivia, 24, sells all over the North West, has posted to London, Devon, Scotland and Wales and has a customer on the Isle of Man who said she should begin selling her cakes on the island as there is no proper provision. She completed both GCSE and A level Food Technology at St Christopher’s in Accrington and was always interested in nutrition. When Charlotte began having difficulties while completing her degree, she was able to use her knowledge to help.

Now Olivia gets a real buzz out of being able to give people with intolerances and allergies the chance to join in family parties and has been able to make children’s birthdays by baking them a bespoke cake that they, and their family and friends can eat and enjoy. She said: “Last August I was contacted by an auntie to see if I could make a cake for her three-year-old niece who had 30 different allergies. When her mum saw it she cried and it was the first time her daughter had been able to eat her own birthday cake. My most popular seller is my afternoon tea in a box; last week I made 50 and on Valentine’s weekend I must have sold 60. It gives me a great deal of pleasure. It is stressful too when you have to do everything yourself, but it is so nice when you can deliver it to someone and you see their face when they receive it.”

Her next plan is to complete work on her website and hopefully be able to offer a take away service on the farm which is just off the A56 on Hameldon Hill.

Nominations for this year’s sixth Hyndburn Business Awards will open on March 23 and the presentation, hopefully this year at Accrington Town Hall, is planned for June 22, but that may move if the national roadmap does not go according to plan.

For more information about the awards, which are organised by Enterprising People, contact Rob Carder by emailing rob@enterprisingpeople.co.uk

Story by Catherine Smyth Media