A Padiham news cameraman has swopped the battlefield for the brewery after cheating death when he was shot by a sniper in Libya.
Mark Smith (42) who grew up on Oat Street, was left bloodied when a bullet grazed his skull as he filmed rebel fighters storming Green Square in Tripoli during the Libyan uprising.
But the near death experience persuaded Mark to ditch the world’s danger zones and set up his own microbrewery and produce hand-crafted ales.
Now the former Gawthorpe pupil, whose parents Peter and Margaret still live in Albert Street, has followed his real ale dream to set up Tavy Ales alongside wife and fellow international TV news reporter Janna Sanders.
The couple, along with Janna’s ale enthusiast brother Nathan, now churn out around 1,500 pints a week to pubs across Devon where they now live.
Mark, who has covered conflict and disaster zones including the Chilean miners’ crisis and Iraq war, spoke about the moment he was nearly killed.
“We were with the Libyan rebels pushing into Green Square in Libya before it fell to the rebels and there were still some resistence.
“A sniper took a pot shot at me and I got clipped by the bullet. I was incredibly lucky. It took a few layers of skin off my head and it bled like hell. It took a while to sink in. This is the reason I started a brewery.”
Mark, who still does some freelance news camera work, did a week-long brewing course before making his own.
“I am a real ale fan and I always fancied having a go at it.
“It is really hard work. Some days its like you’re banging your head agaisnt a brick wall and then you get feedback of people who really like the ale and it is all worth while.”
He now produces four ales including Tavy Porter which scooped gold at the 2013 Society of Independent Brewers South-West Regional Beer Festival after only a year in business.
The ale could soon be on sale up North and he hopes to give real ale fans a try at next year’s Pendle Beer Festival.