IT WAS on holiday in Turkey that Sarah Clough had a lightbulb moment.

“I was with my husband Richard and we were doing pilates,” she says. “I already took part in a class in the UK and thought how much I loved it and decided I wanted to teach it.”

She enrolled for training in Menston, not far from her Ilkley home. Armed with the expertise, she asked around a dozen people to come to her home one evening for a practice session.

“We have a studio next door and I held it there. It went really well,” she says. “I got a job at Harvey Nichols in Leeds so I could earn a living while building up my business.”

As its popularity grew, Sarah looked for larger premises. Luckily, The Grange, a Grade ll listed building in the heart of Burley-in-Whafedale, was available.

Renovating the building from top to bottom and putting her creative skills to use in the interior, Sarah turned the venue into three stunning studios where a range of classes, courses and workshops are taught by knowledgeable instructors.

She called her business Space Fitness & Wellbeing. Alongside the studios, there’s a welcoming cafe, serving teas, coffees, juices and a selection of delicious homemade cakes.

Sarah, who went to school in Keighley and Harrogate, originally wanted to be a zoologist but ended up studying fashion and knitwear at Nottingham Trent University.

“From being very young I had always loved design, and tend to fall into things,” she says.

Following her studies she went away travelling. “I ended up going away for two years and spent that time mainly working in Japan - in Tokyo I worked in the design industry - and then South-East Asia.”

Returning to Britain she set up her own knitwear business, which took off. “I had more than 150 hand knitters. I worked with a catalogue company and sold to large stores, and exported too.”

After a time, she sold the company and made a decision to go to Africa. “I went to Zambia with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO),” she says. “I worked on a project with people who had just been diagnosed with HIV.

“In the 1990s AIDS was not really understood, and there was a great stigma surrounding it.”

Sarah worked with young adults aged between 18 and early twenties, who had recently been diagnosed. “They had had no education. My role was to teach them how to set up a small business that would bring in money to survive on.”

But this proved problematic and instead she set up a collective shop selling products they had made.

Items on sale included papier mache bowls and trays, table mats, natural-dyed clothing and cushion covers.

The shop was a success, attracting many customers from the local ex-pat community. “It was well supported by foreign ambassadors and took 800 US dollars on the first day,” recalls Sarah.

“It was also wonderful as the people making the items had never before had anyone tell them how wonderful their creations were. It was lovely to hear them proudly say ‘I did that’.”

Then the Irish ambassador, who was very impressed by the business, secured funding for a plot of land where a quadrangle building was constructed to house art workshops, shops, offices, a kitchen and cafe.

“Tourists began coming and we held cultural evenings with dancing and singing,” says Sarah. “It really took off. We sold a lot of wall hangings. Many ex-pats had huge houses and nothing to put on their walls.”

She adds: It made a massive difference to the young adults - just having belief in themselves, and the knowledge that they could support and feed their families,” she says. “Their health did start to improve, and their confidence. AIDS was not talked about, and previously they hid themselves away. The fact that they came out and met all the visitors was amazing.

“I had a lot of support, particularly from the wife of the British ambassador,” says Sarah. “I made a lot of very good friends.”

She also met representatives from the charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, that campaigns on and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health.

Sarah’s work led to an offer to work with the UK-based Fairtrade organisation Traidcraft, travelling around Zambia looking for rural industries with the potential for growth.

What was intended as an 18-month placement in Africa turned into a stay of six years.“It was very humbling.”

Returning to the UK, and to Yorkshire, Sarah returned to the fashion industry. She also met her husband-to-be, Richard on a night out in Ilkley.

When a key supplier died from breast cancer, it caused Sarah to reassess her life. “I was very close to her and dependent on her,” she says. “It made me think about what I really wanted in life.”

Her business has flourished. People come along to learn and enjoy classes including pilates, yoga, tai chi and high intensity interval training. There’s also mindfulness and aromatherapy massage and reiki.

“It is going from strength to strength ,” she says. “When people stop and have a break in the café between classes there is lovely sense of community. It is like a social hub, and I have made many new friends.”

Sarah teaches pilates and barre, a form of exercise that makes use of the ballet barre and incorporates movements derived from ballet.

“It is great to see the changes in people, not only physiological but their mental approach too. I have seen first-hand that looking after yourself can make a huge difference to your life.”

She adds: “We try to make it so that when you walk in you feel a sense of calm and relaxation.”

Sarah works with a “great team of teachers” and aims to bring more on board in the future.

Richard, who works in the corporate clothing industry, has, she says, been very supportive. “He helps behind the scenes.” And the couple’s daughter 14-year-old Mala - named after the Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa - helps too, cleaning mats on a Saturday morning.

“I feel very blessed that it has all come together,” adds Sarah.

*Space Fitness & Wellbeing by Sarah Clough; E:; T: 07999 835660