A CAFE which specialises in cupcakes won the Independent Business of the Year award.

The Kup-cake Kitchen Café in Union Street took first prize, with BBR Optometry Ltd and Fodder in Church Street coming runners-up.

The judges looked at new products or services, innovations and changes in processes, as well as expansion into new markets or different areas of business activity.

Owner of the Kup-cake Kitchen, Valencia Simpson, said: "I was really shocked. There are so many amazing independents in Hereford - Beefy Boys, Rule of Tum - for us to have won the award, it is a real shock."

The café was set up in May 2015, after owner Valencia almost lost her life to sepsis following a routine operation.

The illness prompted Valencia to take the plunge and open up her own cake shop.

She applied for a business start-up loan but disaster struck when days after Christmas a house fire broke out at her home and she lost everything, including what she had bought for the shop.

However she finally opened 18 months ago. Valencia said: "I haven't been in catering before. I came up with this idea and I thought, yes, I will give it a go. Win or fail, I just needed to know."

Three months in, her business rates rose from around £126 a month to £457 a month, so she came up with the idea of running courses to make up for the shortfall.

The café offers bespoke coffee and cupcakes, as well as serving bubbles, but she has also branched out into offering delivery, classes, parties, courses and occasion cakes.

She also rents out vintage crockery.

Valencia said: "People come to us and they expect great quality food - that is why we have got such a stronghold in the location we are in.

"We literally have two ovens and a microwave. For the small team we are, we must be doing something right."

The award was handed out by David Harlow, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for economy and corporate services.