'I'm proud to own my own business' - meet Michael, the Welsh entrepreneur breaking barriers

Michael Beynon
Michael Beynon started his own business selling welshcakes in 2018 Credit: ITV Wales

Two years ago Michael Beynon from Ammanford combined his love of cooking and history, and launched his own company making and selling Welsh cakes.

It was an idea sparked by his town's mining history.

But his cakes are not just ordinary Welsh cakes; they're black, representing the soot of the former mines in his home town.

At his studio in the town he produces thousands of cakes every week, helped by his mother Erika and his personal assistant Katie.

Michael has Down's Syndrome, and the journey of opening his own business hasn't always proven easy, but it's given him the chance to develop new skills and grow in confidence.

Michael's business has grown incredibly, last year he was invited to host a stall at the Royal Welsh Show Credit: ITV Wales

Michael's products are extremely popular and this week he's busy preparing for Christmas orders.

Since the pandemic he says business has changed, with much of the social interaction replaced with online sales.

Michael is a shining example of what people with a learning disability can achieve.

With the help and support of his family, and his community, he's now a successful businessman.

But not everyone in Wales as is fortunate to have such support.

Mencap says less than 2 in 10 people with a learning disability are in a paid job, and many others still face significant barriers, because of stigma and a lack of understanding.

There are concerns the pandemic may make it even more difficult for people to access paid work, and the charity is calling on employers to "think differently", and find out how they could open their doors to people with a learning disability.

In the future Michael has hopes of one day opening his own cafe.

He's no stranger to challenges - in October he became the first person with Down's Syndrome in Wales to complete the London Marathon.

Nothing is going to get in his way.

Michael completed the 26.2 mile journey despite being told he would need a wheelchair for most of his adult life. Credit: Erika Walker