The Tale of The Blind Chocolatier
Stuart Hann has been a pastry Chef in the English Lake District since 2007 and has been at the heart of a team winning multiple awards including 2 Rosette Standard. In July 2015 Stuart was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) meaning he is now registered legally blind, however this hasn't stopped him from being able to perform his magic in the kitchen, maintaining his role in a 2 Rosette kitchen and now also bringing you "The Blind Chocolatier" and following his own dream of finally running a Chocolate shop in his hometown of Staveley in the Beautiful English Lake District.
Here at The Blind Chocolatier, it is our mission to bring you the finest selection of top quality handmade Chocolates. Our Chocolates are lovingly crafted for an amazing experience every time you try one, so stock up as many as you can carry and don't tell your friends (Because seriously I can't make them fast enough there will be none left!)
If you wish to read more about the rare condition which Stuart and about 1000 more in the UK are affected by please visit: https://www.lhon.org
More about the Blind Chocolatier
My Story Stuart Hann - The Blind Chocolatier
I grew up in Ings and Staveley, as a local I went to Windermere Junior School then the Lakes School at Troutbeck. Through the Lakes school I attended Kendal College’s catering course, following school I went on to do a two year course at Kendal College. I worked part time in my Grandparents pub at Ings. My work placement lead me to the Merewood Hotel where I later took a full time position in 2007 and started training to be a full-time pastry chef.
In July 2015 my eyesight deteriorated and I felt I needed an eye check-up. The loss of sight was rapid over a three week period. Hospital appointments were difficult to get. We went to four different hospitals several times over a period of a twelve months before being referred to Newcastle Eye Hospital. Here I was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) meaning I am now registered legally blind. There are two forms of the disease and I have the rarer mutation.
My employers were understanding, it was not an easy time for either of us working whilst I was going for tests. After my diagnoses I had to stop working until all the right risk assessments were done. It was agreed I would come back to work as a prep chef rather than a pastry chef. I was happy with the position because I could work again in the hotel that I had worked in from school. I retrained my self and adapted to overcome the issues with doing the finer things and got my pastry section back and improved my skills because I wanted to prove to myself and others I could still do my job.
During the time when I was off work there was a program called Kitchen Impossible with Michel Roux Jr on channel 4 which was good to watch to see other people with similar disabilities and my Mum emailed the program as there was a blind participant. Michel Roux Jr phoned my Mum in Person to give advice and some charities to contact about helping me but she was so shocked she didn’t give him my number.
In my first year back working at the hotel, Impact international which is the training company that owns our hotel gave me a budget to do a cake sale for the staff and gave me a donation from their charity fund. This was because I was going to a driving day put on by Newcastle guide dogs charity and with one other local cake sale I raised just over £500 to go on the blind driving day. It was great fun as I loved my cars and not being able to drive anymore is the worst bit about being registered blind. I still go to car events with my friends like Goodwood and Santa Pod but unfortunately they won’t let me drive, which seems a bit unfair and I can’t see the problem!
I am following my dreams and ambitions and now starting a new venture and business hand making chocolates in my home village of Staveley at Mill Yard in the heart of the Lake District. I have been named “The Blind Chocolatier” by friends and family. It seemed so appropriate to use this and my surname as my business name. “Hann-made by the Blind Chocolatier in the Lake District”.
If you wish to read more about the rare condition which I have and 1000 others in the UK are affected by visit https://www.lhon.org
Stuart Hann – “The Blind Chocolatier”
Facebook: The blind chocolatier
Instagram : theblindchocolatier