A MOTHER-OF-THREE who converted an exotic pet shop full of snakes and lizards into a milkshake shop said she was 'so proud' of her five star hygiene rating.

Jeanette Ruane-Stuart took over the former White Horse Exotics shop in Abingdon last year and converted it into a Willow's Shakeshop - a cafe, vintage furniture tea room and crafts space.

With help from her husband Terry Stuart, her three children, and Vale of White Horse District Council hygiene officers, she has now received a five-star rating.

The 49-year-old was previously the catering manager at Abingdon and Witney College but said running her own business came with a whole new set of challenges.

She said: "I was so proud when I found out we had five stars.

"We went through four different planning meetings - and then had to make changes inside.

"When you work for someone else, you don't realise quite how much paperwork is involved and there's a lot more you have to do.

"Fortunately my husband is very organised and it has worked well."

She added: "When I first looked around I was told not to open one of the cupboards because there was a big snake in there - so it's been a real turnaround."

Her sons Ryan, 18, and Sam, 25, have also been involved, coming up with ideas and working in the shop.

While daughter Daisy, 6, had her drawing of a unicorn bought by a customer.

As part of the planning conditions, the milkshake shop has to have an element of retail as well, which comes in the form of vintage furniture, arts and crafts.

She said she had always wanted to open a shop, as her parents ran The Cycle and Sports Shop in Eynsham for many years, and spotted a gap in the market.

Mrs Ruane-Stuart said: "With two older children and one much younger I wanted somewhere that people of all ages could enjoy.

"Even though Abingdon has many cafes the options for young children are very limited, orange juice, apple juice or fizzy drinks."

She added that craft evenings had also been popular in the shop since its opening in October.

The Bladon woman, who works in the John Radcliffe's neo-natal unit on Saturdays, praised the Vale of White Horse District Council hygiene team for their help.

She said: "They were so helpful, they sent us a letter at first which said to ask if we had any questions.

"I wasn't going to but my husband said that's what they are there for and they were great.

"I had a long list of questions about everything and when the officer turned up I had even more but she was brilliant."