SHE went through some very dark times before moving to Oxford 14 years ago.

And now Jaya Patel says she has finally found happiness after opening up her own Indian deli in London Road, Headington.

The 52-year-old said: “I’ve gone through quite a lot in my life. I had an arranged marriage when I was 15, went through a divorce, lost my house and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“It all made me realise life is too short to sit around not enjoying it and not making the most of it.

“So I decided to open up my shop – to give myself a new lease of life.”

She said she has been overwhelmed with the response to the vegetarian deli – Jaya’s Indian Deli and cafe – and said: “I’ve always loved to cook and it’s a pleasure to see hundreds of people coming through the door and enjoying my food.

“Sometimes I come into the shop and still can’t believe that it’s mine because, until now, I’ve never pursued something just for me.”

Ms Patel was brought up by her great-grandmother in India and moved to Manchester in 1974.

But she said she felt her upbringing was different to the lives of her children, Dipesh, and Natasha, who are a successful businessman and a trainee doctor respectively.

She said: “I first moved here because I knew the schooling was the best for my children and I never could have imagined that it would have led to me being part of a wonderful community.”