Seven years ago Gaynor Saxton was given the worst news possible: she had a brain tumour.
And in the quiet hours of the night as she fought with the devastating diagnosis, a nurse asked what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
Gaynor’s response was immediate: she wanted to open her own health food store.
“The nurse thought that was a bit different; most people chose to go to Australia or New Zealand,” says Gaynor, 51. “But it was the best decision I ever made.”
Gaynor achieved her ambition but closed her Good Health Store, in Denby Dale, on Christmas Eve – as her business took a new turn.
She and husband Paul, also 51, a HGV driver, have spent their nights and weekends over the past year transforming an 1870s building on Wakefield Road in Denby Dale into GG’s Artisan Bakery and Food Store. The aim, says Gaynor, is to promote the healthy lifestyle that has helped her defy the odds.
“I try to do everything the herbal way,” she said. “When I started I was baking quiches at home in my kitchen, just trying to promote a healthy diet.
“People began supporting me and I outgrew the mill shop. I have become very close to a lot of my customers. They tell me their stories and I tell them mine. We help each other out.”
Among the regulars is local RSPB bird expert Roy Taylor, now confined to a wheelchair after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013. Roy, also of Denby Dale, advised on disabled access. He was described by Gaynor as “the perfect person” to perform the opening ceremony at her disabled-friendly shop.
“We are as local as we can get. It all happens in Denby Dale!” she laughs.
With her staff Gaynor provides sweet and sour dough breads from grain sourced in Driffield. The shop sells a variety of fruit and vegetables and drinks and offers a salad bar and dairy-free and gluten free foodstuffs. Everything is organic.
And this passionate purveyor is living proof of the benefits of natural, homeopathic goodness.
“I was told to live my life to the full and that is exactly what I am doing,” she said. “I am still here. Having the shop has focused me. I don’t feel pain even though I’ve got plenty. I am having a physical and mental workout every day.”
Via the shop Gaynor, Paul, Roy, baker Martin Woods, regulars and villagers will be raising money for charity Headway, the brain injury association.