Izabela Stuchlik is a baker who runs a business in Stevenage.

The 40-year-old runs the Leavened Bakery in Stevenage Indoor Market, as part of her "most incredible team of four".

However, Izabela Stuchlik is no ordinary baker, having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) prior to her baking career.

Despite Izabela's condition, Leavened has now been running for over two years, and has a growing local reputation.

The Comet: Izabela runs the Leavened Bakery as part of her "most incredible team of four".Izabela runs the Leavened Bakery as part of her "most incredible team of four". (Image: Izabela Stuchlik)

Before becoming a baker, Izabela worked as a photographer, a career inspired by her late brother.

She told the Comet: "I found my passion for photography, which I also felt was inherited from my brother, whom I lost to brain tumour a few years back.

"It felt like the moment he was gone I decided to pick up the camera, and continue capturing the world around.

"I would capture all those little precious moments for lovely, local families.

The Comet: Izabela worked in a coffee shop to learn her trade.Izabela worked in a coffee shop to learn her trade. (Image: Izabela Stuchlik)

"Tiny toes, natural smiles, connections.

"It was a truly beautiful and fulfilling experience and I was giving all those families I met something they would be able to keep forever."

In spring 2018, Izabela began to notice unusual symptoms such as shaking hands, and difficulty holding her body upright.

She continued: "All of a sudden, out of nowhere, my hands started shaking and I couldn’t hold the camera steadily.

The Comet: Izabela had a career in photography before being diagnosed with MS.Izabela had a career in photography before being diagnosed with MS. (Image: Izabela Stuchlik)

"I couldn’t walk too far into the woods for my photoshoots and holding my body upright was nearly impossible.

"The warmer it was outside, the worse my symptoms were.

"My GP would tell me it was due to my newly discovered anaemia and if I only took enough iron tablets I would get better, but I wasn’t getting any better."

Eventually, Izabela visited a Polish neurologist who diagnosed her with MS.

The Comet: Izabela turned her attention to baking when her hands became too shaky to hold a camera.Izabela turned her attention to baking when her hands became too shaky to hold a camera. (Image: Izabela Stuchlik)

This brought an end to her photography career, with her hands becoming too unstable to hold a camera.

She explained: "The world had stopped, my world. In my head I was soon in a wheelchair and dead a few years later.

"I had no idea what MS was, and what my future could be like.

"All I knew was that my mother’s sister had it, she always looked very drunk even though she wasn’t - which I only found out later - and she passed away due to MS.

"None of that happened to me."

With a determination to live "life to the full", Izabela turned her attention to baking: "I needed a new job, a new task I could do to feel that I belong somewhere.

The Comet: The Leavened Bakery is now celebrating its second birthday.The Leavened Bakery is now celebrating its second birthday. (Image: Izabela Stuchlik)

"I’ve always believed that I would enjoy feeding people. There was always a lot of baking happening in my family home, so I decided I wanted to create bakes for wider audience."

Following a job in a coffee shop, allowing her to "watch and learn", the global pandemic hit and halted Izabela's progress towards a baking career.

Following a lockdown trend, she began to bake at home and produced sourdough bread for the first time.

Izabella commented: "It was hard at the beginning, I failed a lot, baked plenty of unintended flat breads.

"I sometimes got stressed, as I wasn't sure what I was doing, but finally - and thanks to Sourdough School, its founder, Vanessa Kimbell and my determination - I got it right."

This was the spark which ignited the Leavened Bakery as a potential business.

The now-owner and founder explained: "I was baking more than enough for my family, so I started giving the bread away and then more and more people wanted it, so I got to the point where my domestic oven just wasn't enough.

"I rented out a space in our local indoor market and, along with my husband, designed the future bakery.

"After a few weeks of total mess, we were ready to open."

Izabela Stuchlik now has a successful business and a team of staff, producing bread day-in day-out.

She is proud of her achievements and wanted to share her story, as the Leavened Bakery celebrates its second birthday.

Lastly, she added: "Even though every day feels like a big fight - with my body and its weaknesses - I will keep on going for as long as I can, as I love every day of being a baker.

"I feel that I owe it to people, that it is a skill or a gift that needs to be shared, and I hope that my customers can feel it in every loaf they take home."