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A FREAK accident left Ann Mullins suffering the "soul-destroying trauma" of nearly two years on the dole.

But now, after setting up an award-winning business selling designer childrenswear in Wigan with the help of the Prince's Trust, she has expanded to neighbouring Warrington.

Her second outlet of Narnia, based in the Courtyard at Cockhedge Shopping Park, Warrington, complements her existing premises at The Galleries in Wigan and has created six new jobs to date.

Now she is a business mentor for the Prince's Trust and has taken part in several seminars to inspire young entrepreneurs through Young Enterprise.

It was a different story in 1995 when the company she worked for went into receivership and three weeks later she suffered a freak accident, breaking her ankle on a two-inch step.

"It wasn't a straightforward break and I was on crutches for more than four months and required two years of intensive physiotherapy, " said Ann, who lives at Lowton, near Warrington.

"I couldn't walk properly or carry on as normal, so I had to spend nearly two soul destroying years on the dole."

But she bounced back, identified a gap in the clothing market, and attended a wide range of business courses to gain valuable skills.

Then, with the help of a bursary and loan from the Prince's Trust, she set up the Wigan branch of Narnia.

Her shops stock designer labels for children including Armani, Moschinol, Baby Dior and Joseph Baby, among many other internationally recognised designer names.

As well as running her businesses, Ann is a Board member of Business Link North Manchester.

Her Wigan business has already scooped awards including Winner of the Wigan and Leigh Business Awards, Service and Retail, two years ago.

"It has been hard work but very rewarding and I am extremely grateful to the Prince's Trust for the valuable support they gave me, " she said.

She finds the work as a mentor extremely rewarding and, in November, 1999, she represented the Manchester region at a reception at Buckingham Palace. The Prince's Trust received a Royal Charter and she met the Queen and Prince Charles, as well as celebrity guests.


MODEL CHILDREN: Ann Mullins with models Aaron Walshe and Charlotte Clipston
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2001
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