AN inspirational Wirral mum who broke her back in a freak accident is celebrating her 10th year in the business world.
Paula Smith, who runs Let's Lunch in Birkenhead town centre, proved doctors wrong after she was told she might never be able to walk again because of the shock incident.
The 43-year-old had been playing in a playground with her nephew, Tom, when she was thrown from a seesaw, damaging a bone in the bottom of her back.
Following the fall, Paula spent two months recovering and had to endure a seven-hour operation.
She said: "We were on the see-saw and Tom was sitting with me on one side and the person on the other side jumped off suddenly.
"It wasn’t that I hit the floor or anything, it was that the see saw stopped suddenly just above the ground and the impact of the sudden stop coupled with the extra weight from us both being on one side was absorbed by a bone in the lumber region of my back.
"The pain was instant and the worst I have ever felt and I knew something awful had happened because I couldn’t hold myself up, I was like a rag doll."
Paula’s spine was fitted with a metal rod and surgeons used a bone from her hip to help repair the broken bone.
But she was determined to get back into work and after jobs at a bakery and a bank, she set up Let's Lunch sandwich shop.
Mum-of-one Paula, who had previously owned her own beauty salon, said: "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?
"It is hard to believe it has been 10 years – the time has flown by and I have really enjoyed it.
"But 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.
"Looking back, I don’t know how I did it but I think the accident taught me that you need to keep a positive attitude, it gave me more fight in life and made me realise that you can get through the most challenging of situations if you put your mind to it."
To mark her 10th anniversary in business, Paula is appealing to customers to come up with a new sandwich filling idea.
You can post your entries at the shop or enter via Let’s Lunch Birkenhead Facebook page. The best idea will be made and sold in store with the winner receiving a free meal deal including their winning sandwich.