When she set up her own fish and chip business, Susan Oliver was not sure what to expect.
But nearly six years after she started The Jolly Fryer, Susan has got a steady stream of customers and has been shortlisted for a national award.
The 40-year-old is a finalist in the Best Seasonal Fish and Chip Operator Award category in the 2015 National Fish and Chip Awards.
Susan, from Denmead, says: ‘I was really overwhelmed when I found out I had made it as a finalist.
‘I wasn’t expecting it all but I am excited.’
Susan was nominated for the award by an anonymous customer.
Once nominated, she got a visit from a mystery shopper who looked at her customer service, general business practices and the quality of her food.
She adds: ‘I didn’t know when the mystery shopper came so when I didn’t hear back I just thought I hadn’t got through.
‘I was really surprised when I received the email saying I was a finalist and in the top three.
‘It was overwhelming to know that somebody liked my business that much to nominate me and that I had impressed the judge.’
Susan started The Jolly Fryer after getting the idea from her husband Christian.
His dad used to sell food from a van and told Susan that they should do it.
So he bought her the van and she started running the business.
She says: ‘When the businesses started up, it was just after the recession so I wasn’t sure how well I was going to do.
‘But I have a number of regular customers who have been coming to me for years and this summer has been particularly busy.
‘I have been asked to do weddings and parties and other events as well as all my usual routes.
‘I go to caravan parks in Christchurch and Winchester and I do a route in East Meon too.
‘Over the summer I was working six days a week so we have gone from strength to strength and it feels fantastic to have been nominated for the awards and then become a finalist.’
Susan will go to the Lancaster London Hotel on January 20 to find out if she’s won.
Only in its second year, the category looks at fish and chip businesses that operate on a seasonal basis or who operate on a mobile basis.
She is up against Dodson’s Fresh Catch, in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and StarChip Enterprise, in Evesham, Worcestershire.