HAVING reflexology before her fifth round of IVF treatment not only led to a successful pregnancy, it also gave Catherine Hunter a new career path. Grace is now 16 years old and waiting for her GCSE results; her mum Catherine retrained from being a medical receptionist and has just opened Hunter’s Foot Health Clinic in her own shop at 29 St James Street, Bacup.
She said: “I found out I could not have children naturally at 24 and began on IVF. On our last attempt I had reflexology at a critical time before the fifth round of IVF and it worked. I call her my ‘saving’ Grace.
“Someone said I should do something for myself and so I started to research reflexology and I completed an intensive course.”
Catherine, 45, got bitten by the study bug and went on to complete a course in anatomy and physiology. She started volunteering at a Sure Start children’s centre in Todmorden helping to support families by using her skills.
She said: “I came to live in Sharneyford just over seven years ago when I was studying a foot health practitioners’ course. I knew I was going to have to go into the private sector because the NHS was cutting back.
“I qualified in September 2015 and opened a room at Pioneer Health Studio, initially when they were based at Riverside, Bacup. That first week I had just three clients. I moved with the gym to Park Road and the business grew, but it was always my aim to open my own premises.”
She had seen Bacup town centre transformed with the Townscape Heritage Initiative money that was awarded to Rossendale Council.
In May as a finalist in the Health Therapist of the Year category of the Lifestyle Awards, she passed a vacant shop premises on St James Street. She said: “I was delighted to be a finalist and then when I passed the premises again on my way back home, I knew I was going to move there.
“I now have 350 clients, but with one room I did not have the space to expand at Pioneer. Natalie and Gavin Smith were the best landlords I could have had and they both have wished me all the best. I am grateful for the support I have had from everyone, including my family, local businesses that refurbished of the premises and traders and old and new clients who have called in since I have opened.
“This is something I have been working towards over the past three years, but the time wasn’t right – now it is.”
Mayor Councillor Barbara Ashworth performed the opening ceremony and said: “I am so pleased to see the changes in the town centre and I think this is really going take off and I know there is a market both for younger people and older people.”
Catherine is also hoping to take on a second practitioner and to extend the clinic to create a serenity room for relaxing reflexology and Warm Wax Therapy.
To find out more visit the clinic at St James Street, email email@example.com or call Catherine on 07854 435937.