A Workington firm's owners are celebrating their first anniversary.

Manufacturing business Hudson Swan, based at Derwent Howe, was taken over by Aneta Gibka and Rafal Gibki in July 2018.

It was an almost unexpected purchase for the married couple, who arrived in Britain from Poland in 2005.

They were going to stay for three months to save up for their wedding and ended up settling in West Cumbria.

Rafal, known as Raf, worked for companies in the area – and even had a stint as a taxi driver, before going to work for Hudson Swan.

When the previous owners of the business decided to retire, it was a no-brainer for the couple.

Aneta says: "He always joked he was going to start his own business when we lived in Poland. He is just that kind of person."

A trained engineer, Raf could see the potential for the business's growth.

A previous attempt at starting his own engineering firm failed at the last hurdle, so when the opportunity arose to acquire Hudson Swan, with its established reputation, the couple jumped at the chance.

As well as a trade counter, the building contains a huge workshop, where the Hudson Swan team undertake welding machine fabrication – both parts and full assembly – for the nuclear industry and beyond.

Its clients include James Fisher, TSP Engineering and Shepley Engineers. The past 12 months have been a steep learning curve for the couple.

Aneta, who is a director at the firm, said: "The procurement process is very difficult, to be honest, for people just starting out. But everyone has been very helpful to us and explained how it works.

"They are trying to simplify the process for SMEs and that is very welcome."

Raf added: "It has been a bit of a struggle to start, but that is always the way when you start a new business.

"A year in and we're getting more customers, but I think it will be two years before we are truly comfortable. Brexit is of course a concern. Some projects have been put on hold earlier in the year, but we're starting to see them restart. I think it's been a hard time in general for smaller firms."