A COUPLE who share a love for restoring classic cars have turned their passion into a small business.

Having started off restoring the upholstery in classic cars, Iain and Lisa Finlayson have just made all the seating for a new cocktail bar in Guisborough.

Following a severe mental breakdown and suicide attempt, former Commando soldier Mr Finlayson was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital, where he learnt to use a sewing machine to engage his mind in a useful way.

Upon leaving the hospital and having been made redundant, Mr Finlayson decided to turn his new-found skill into a business of his own.

The Northern Echo:

Realising the need for professional training to enable him to do this, he successfully applied for funding from Help for Heroes which enabled him to attend a course with an auto and marine upholstery specialist in Dorset.

“I’m so grateful to Help for Heroes for being there when I needed help,” said the 47-year-old.

“It wasn’t just the course that was invaluable but the ongoing support I have.

"Everyone who completes it is linked up with each other like a nationwide support group so that we can call on each other for advice whenever we need to.”

It wasn’t long before Mrs Finlayson, also an army veteran and whom he met when both were stationed in Germany, became involved to process orders, look after stock and source materials.

The Northern Echo:

In just four weeks, based at their Middlesbrough workshop, Mr Finlayson manufactured, from scratch, a five-metre long bench, weighing 80kg, plus two smaller ones, with beautifully soft faux leather, while Mrs Finlayson, who grew up in Sunderland, handmade the 144 buttons that decorate the furniture.

And the most recent and their biggest project to date – seating for Olive or Twist on Guisborough’s Westgate.

Mrs Finlayson said: "It’s the first bar we’ve been involved with but already, through putting photos on Facebook, we’ve been inundated with calls from joiners and pub owners all over the country looking for upholsterers for pubs and restaurants, especially from people with military connections who are opening up these sort of places and are wanting to give work to veterans.”

Running two businesses – Timeless Auto Trim and Timeless Textiles depending on the target market - enables the pair to manage their customers’ deadline expectations.

Mr Finlayson added: “We’re not in it for the money but to feel useful again and have skill that people appreciate."