CARL Rowland's life turned upside down last year when £27,000 worth of work tools were stolen from his van.

After thieves struck outside his home in Lowton, Carl, an auto electrician with 30 years experience, was left unable to do his job.

Despite being deprived of his work equipment, the dad-of-two struggled on with what little resources he had left but realised his heart was not in his job anymore.

Carl, 49, from Leigh, said: "When someone takes everything that you have worked for, it just wipes you out - it takes your life away.

"I worked with every garage in the area, the police and had private customers.

"After the theft people were asking me to do jobs but I couldn't do them anymore because I didn't have the tools to do them.

"I tried to fix cars with what I had left but I couldn't.

"I went to my doctors with depression and it was because I thought I had failed and was letting people down."

After seeing a For Sale sign at a chippy on Hope Carr Road, Carl decided he should put an offer in to buy it and find a new way of serving customers.

His partner Hazel's mum and dad run a chip shop in Bolton and they warned him about the hard work it involves.

But he knew he had this attribute in abundance despite admitting he wasn't aware just how tough it would be to adjust to the lengthy working hours.

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Carl opened his shop, Rowlies Fish and Chips, in February.

And he has been relishing his new occupation and so have his customers.

Visitors are greeted with a beaming smile by Carl and his colleagues, which include Hazel in the evenings.

They also enjoy the secret ingredients he adds to his food.

His efforts have now been rewarded after the shop has made a shortlist of 10 for the Best Newcomer accolade in the National Fish and Chip Awards.

"I love food and I love people so I thought I could run a chippy," Carl said.

"I was fixing people's cars, now I'm feeding them.

"I am absolutely overwhelmed with being nominated for the award, it is amazing.

"I needed a unique selling point when I opened so I make my batter in a certain way which goes down a treat.

"I also add ingredients in food which people like and offer lemon wedges with fish. The food is served in a box too.

"I like to think it is a restaurant without chairs."

Carl's menu also featured battered mussels recently which were snapped up by customers.

The shop was given a five star food hygiene rating in March as well.

Carl thrives on the social aspect of working in a customer-facing environment too.

He said: "I have always got a smile on my face.

"I don't have problems, just solutions.

"Sometimes I feel like a counsellor as people come in and talk about their problems and then they feel better when they leave.

"What happened to me shows that you can pick yourself up if you have a positive attitude."