AS A CHILD Lynda Neville always remembered endless bowls of fruit at their kitchen table in Castletroy.
As she approached her 40th birthday, the mum of two knew the time was right to branch out on her own, and recession or not, establish business she had always dreamed about.
A love of fruit and being creative, led her to marry her two passions in a perfect - and tasty - union.
Now, her ‘Happy Fruit’ company, which delivers bouquets of fruit dipped in all kinds of chocolate to happy customers around Limerick, is already becoming a sell-out success.
With Mother’s Day approaching next weekend, and Valentine’s day just behind her, the business woman is elbow deep in chocolate as she keeps up with the pace of orders coming in.
After years of hosting different occasions for friends and family, helping them with parties, and being creative with food, Lynda literally needed to feed her passion.
“People kept telling me I should do it full time and give it a go. I trained in Ballymaloe in Cork for several months and then attended a course from an international edible boutique company in London as I wanted to make my homemade look a bit more professional,” she told the Limerick Leader.
“I adore flowers, but people are always looking for something different and this is a healthy option.
“This has been a great way of getting children to eat more fruit, even though it’s disguised a little bit. Parents would often say to me ‘My son/daughter won’t eat pineapple, but they ate it from your bouquet before they even knew it’.
“It’s a great feeling to see people so happy when they receive one of these gifts and really puts a smile on their faces.”
As hospitals no longer allow bouquets of flowers to be delivered to patients, this is one novel way to help cheer up someone in their hospital bed.
“I started doing a lot of private functions - weddings, breakfast briefings - and it has just spiralled from there and I’m now linking up with some food catering companies. It’s in its infancy, but it has gotten such a big reaction already. I’m thrilled with it. It’s a simple concept and that’s what I love about it.”
Lynda said her main aim was always to make the business work with her children’s lives, with them coming first.
While health and safety guidelines don’t allow this happy helpers and chocolate bowl lickers to be involved in the food side, children Finn, 5, and Mia, 4, are happy to be their mum’s assistants, putting stickers on envelopes and boxes ready, and accompanying her on her deliveries.
The daughter of the well-known dairy farmer Kevin Culhane she said being on a farm taught her the value of hard work; a place where “no one stays idle.”
No one is staying idle in this household either.
“It’s mad [busy] but it’s great,” she said.
Bouquets of fruit are priced from €25 to one of their largest arrangements for €65, which includes pineapple daisies with melon centres, fresh kiwi, fresh and milk chocolate dipped strawberries. See www.happyfruit.ie for details