A GENEROUS redundancy payout from Honda helped pave the way for a former employee to start a new career when the plant closed.

Karen Webb and around 3,499 other staff at the South Marston factory faced the end of an important chapter of their lives in July when the car manufacturer stopped operating in the UK.

She said: "It was upsetting because you build relationships with all your friends and saying goodbye to everyone was very hard, it was a sad day, but Honda were very supportive.

"Quite a few of us from Honda have started our own businesses after leaving the plant. I feel lucky because it would have been a lot of money to borrow to set this up otherwise."

When one door closed, another opened - Karen took a college course and worked with a dog groomer to gain and refine the skills she needed to start her own salon Mutts Cuts.

Her seven-year-old Shih Tzu Dudley helped her practice different cuts and styles.

She added: "I've had this dream for as long as I can remember because I love animals and now I've been able to follow what I've always wanted to do. I still pinch myself because I'm doing something I love - not a lot of people can say that. "

Her husband Justin, a machine operator at BMW and all-around handyman, got to work on transforming his garden 'man cave' with bar and pool table into a shiny new studio for Karen's venture.

He said: "I started working on it and putting it all together as soon as she learned she was being made redundant.

"It's gone well so far, we're pleased, and if it gets a bit busier she'll never look back, we just need to get the word out."

Now that the dog grooming salon is up and running, what's it like to work there?

Karen added: "You groom each dog differently - some are nervous, some don't like having their nails clipped or their feet being touched, some need time to keep calm and be reassured.

"It's just about being patient, going at the dog's speed and doing what they are comfortable with."

Call 07435 394131, visit themuttscutsgroomingsalon.co.uk or the Facebook page @themuttscutsgroomingsalon