A Chester man has swapped navy warships and fighting fires for baking cakes and cooking lunches for toddlers.

The Spinney Day Nursery, Bell Meadow, Pulford, has a hardened ex-sailor and firefighter as their full-time cook.

Ken Wood, from Hoole, served for 11 years with the Royal Navy as an engineer and 23 years as a firefighter, but says he has never been happier.

The 56-year-old started working for Spinney Nurseries after seeing an advertisement in his local shop in Hoole.

Father-of-three Ken said: “Originally it was just for a driver, picking up the children from school and bringing them to the nursery.

“But then a job came up as a cook in the Bell Meadow nursery and I jumped at the chance.

“The owners were a bit surprised I wanted to work in a children’s nursery when they looked at my CV. Fortunately, though, they gave me a chance and I’ve never looked back.

“I’d always wanted to be a cook and actually applied to be one when I joined the navy.

“But the recruiting officer saw my name and suggested I may want to reconsider my choice unless I fancied constant ribbing for being called the same as the famous kitchen appliance manufacturers.”

Ken added: “People do raise their eyebrows when I tell them what I’m doing but I don’t care – I love cooking and baking, and there’s no happier place to work than a nursery full of fantastic staff and laughing children.”

Indeed, Ken enjoys working in the nursery so much that alongside his full-time job as cook he his training to become a qualified nursery worker.

Alison Thomson, who owns Spinney Day Nursery Bell Meadow, said: “Ken is definitely a favourite with our children, especially when he puts his proper chef’s hat on and makes his special Jamaican chicken.

“And the skills he learnt in the navy certainly come in handy – providing meals for a nursery full of pre-schoolers takes military precision!” she added.