Left deaf after RAF service, Jedburgh’s newest entrepreneur is determined that disability will not hold her back.
This week, Lesley Stewart re-opened the town’s Coffee Corner cafe at 9 Market Place in the royal burgh following an extensive refurbishment.
And so busy has it been with local residents eager to patronise another asset for the town, Lesley is already thinking about taking on staff.
“At the moment it’s just me, although my son Graham, who’s a chef in the RAF, has been on leave and helping me get things set up and going this week,” Lesley told us.
“I am 53 and deaf and just want to show people that, no matter what age you are or even if you have a disability, you can still fulfil your ambitions and dreams.”
Jethart Herald and local butcher Allan Learmonth did the honours on Monday morning, declaring the new Coffee Corner open.
Lesley admits it has been a bit of a baptism of fire this first week.
“It’s been hectic, really busy, but it’s also exciting having your own business,” she added.
Lesley, who served in telecommunications while in the RAF, explained: “Spending 12 hours a day with earphones on in the RAF is what left me deaf – I wasn’t born deaf.
“I then spent 10 years working in the voluntary sector, but got a bit disillusioned and wanted to try something different.
“I don’t think a disability should be allowed to hold you back. I’ve had to learn to do certain things differently because of my deafness. Deafness can leave people feeling isolated and depressed, and that’s why I pushed myself to do this.