WHEN Justin Bowen took voluntary redundancy from his job working with young offenders last August he had no idea what he would do next.

The husband and dad from Wychbold, near Droitwich, felt he had a limited skills set and wanted to do something that would enable him to work around the needs of his young family.

He started doing some research on the internet and found someone in Scotland making high quality hand-made fudge so he asked him to send some samples.

Justin was impressed by the quality and decided to start a business, Wychbold Fudge, buying and selling this Scottish hand-made fudge.

“After three months of doing it, I thought I could probably do better,” said 44-year-old Justin, who does all the cooking at home.

Wychavon District Council gave us a start-up grant and that, with some money we already had, meant I could buy a fudge kettle. I started making my own fudge and it went from strength to strength.”

Now Wychbold Fudge has celebrated its first anniversary and demand is growing for the home-made sweet treat.

This fudge company is a real family business – Justin make the fudge, his wife Helga (a full time accountant) does the business accounts and helps him sell his products, while son Bren aged three and 20-month-old daughter Seren are their little tasters. However Justin stresses the children only try small amounts.

Justin now sells his eight regular fudge flavours – vanilla, mint chocolate, creamy caramel, raspberry chocolate, rum and raisin, chocolate orange, sea salt and caramel, peanut butter and chocolate – and any specials at Droitwich market every Friday from 9am to 4pm and at various locations for Worcestershire Farmers Market every Saturday from 9am to 3pm. He also attends special events like local festivals.

“We have eight regular flavours but we also have one or two specials which change pretty much every week. We’ve done about 20 different special flavours over the past year.”

Justin has even created a special Hallowe’en flavoured fudge - using organic locally grown squash and spices – requested by the restaurant at Hadley Bowling Green, near Worcester. “They liked it so much they bought all of it,” he said.

Other special flavours have included autumn fruits, lemon meringue, fruit and nut, cherry chocolate and walnut, strawberries and cream, liquorice, and Christmas pudding. Many of the special flavours have been produced as a result of customer requests.

“The thing that I love with this is experimenting with different flavours. I have developed an interest and a passion for making fudge.

“If anyone had said to me 18 months ago that come October 2015 I would be making and selling my own fudge, I would have said they were absolutely bonkers.”

Justin admits he loves his new career and it is clear his customers love his fudge. As well as his regular customers at the farmers markets, he has had an order from Canada and a batch went over to Australia with a tourist visiting Worcestershire.

Wychbold Fudge is now offering bespoke fudge for parties, weddings, anniversaries and other special events.

Although demand is high for his products, Justin says he is determined to make sure the fudge remains home-made, of the highest quality and special.

“We have built up a really loyal local customer base and that has been one of the most enjoyable things. We have customers who started with us a year ago and they come back and buy a bar of fudge every week.

“One of the real pleasures has been getting to know our customers who continue to support us,” he said.