A CHOCOLATIER who was registered legally blind six years ago is wowing customers with his ‘Hann-made’ chocolates.

The Blind Chocolatier’s Stuart Hann is busy preparing for Christmas and has promised customers to his Staveley based shop an exciting window display and extraordinary chocolate flavours for the festive period.

Mr Hann, who set up The Blind Chocolatier in his hometown in 2019, started his culinary career as a pastry chef in 2007 and previously worked for the Merewood Hotel in Windermere.

In 2015 he was diagnosed with a rare mutation of the condition Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) and was registered legally blind.

The condition causes loss of eyesight, starting with painless blurriness.

After his diagnosis Mr Hann eventually returned to work but decided he wanted to open his own business.

“Your central vision, which you need to drive, read and recognise faces, will be affected first,” said Mr Hann.

“Symptoms typically start between the ages of 15 and 35.

“So I have my writing bigger on the till and phone and look closely at the products as my central vision is what is affected as it is the optic nerve which doesn't work properly.”

Business is going well, and Mr Hann is experiencing huge demand for his products and is working with businesses including Love the Lakes, Cedar Manor and The Gilpin Hotel.

“During the summer it was really busy, some days I nearly ran out of chocolate twice because I was selling it quicker than I could make it,” he said.

“I’ve already had a lot of big orders.

“Some people look at my chocolate and think that’s a bit weird but when they try it they really like it.

“One popular flavour is white chocolate, orange and maple.

“Next year I’ll be making almond and pistachio praline bars and doing a new range as well.

“This Christmas I’ve got chocolate Santas, Yule logs with five different flavours.

“And I’m hoping to make a big snowman for my Christmas display.

“I’ve started but it’s very busy so he’s waiting.

“The best thing is seeing the repeat custom and knowing people genuinely like my products.”

Currently, Mr Hann is running all areas of the business himself, but hopes to open another shop and hire staff in the future.