A farming family who tamed the prairies of Canada are celebrating the success of their Cumbria-based business.

John and Fiona Willan set up Willan Trading in 2010, after an eight-year stint in North America, building a co-operative auction mart up from scratch into a thriving concern.

But the call to return home, where they can trace their family back to the 13th century, was strong and they needed a new project.

Fiona said: “In Canada, it was as you would expect, with Stetsons, cowboy boots, all that. We’d done what we set out to achieve and it was great, but we wanted to come home.

“We returned and almost fell in to building property. When you are a farmer, you are building things all the time, so it didn’t seem like a big step. Plus, John has always had that entrepreneurial spirit.”

John’s brother Stephen is an integral part of the firm – and the siblings have worked together for almost all of their working lives – and they have been joined by Fiona and John’s sons Jonathan and Jamie and daughter-in-law Natasha.

The firm has also undergone a recent rebrand, masterminded by Fiona, to raise its profile.

She said: “We want to be instantly recognisable and we think our choice of a simple design of three bricks to form the W for Willan makes us stand out.

“We want people to be talking about our houses and if they see that W, they know it’s us.”

Now called Willan Homes and Developments, the company, based at Brougham, near Penrith, has been responsible for several bespoke developments across Cumbria and has several more in the pipeline.

It has created homes in Penrith and Appleby and has current developments in Culgaith, Ousby, Melmerby and Lazonby.

Fiona said the company’s ethos was to build homes that people could afford to live in, but at the highest standards possible.

Natasha and Fiona are responsible for the fixtures and fittings and Natasha said: “We look at what we would want in our homes and attempt to recreate that in the houses we build.

“We hope that is one of the things that sets us apart.”

Fiona added: “This is a year of growth for us. With all the family involved, it is our ‘forever’ business and we have to make sure it grows.”