THE winner of the Bury Free Press Local Business Accelerators initiative is Eriswell Hall Barns auction house.
Owner Michael Almond said the win was ‘extremely important’ and added: “All the staff are thrilled to bits.”
The prize includes more than £3,000 worth of advertising in the Bury Free Press plus mentoring from Jane Vincent, chairman of the Suffolk development agency Menta.
But the business will also join the winners from nearly 500 other local newspaper competitions for the chance to win sessions with LBA national ambassador Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden for a year.
Mr Almond, 67, said the mentoring was important to him because while he had run his own haulage, groundworks and day nursery businesses since leaving the Royal Navy in his youth, he knows little of the business he would like the barn he took over in 2009 to become.
“It’s a special old building dating from the 1750s and to get it back how it once was would be fantastic,” he said.
The auctions are helping to fund caring for the building, but he would like to eventually do 1750s re-enactments there.
The judges who had to choose which of the six companies on the Bury shortlist would win included Jane Vincent, Bury Chamber of Commerce chairman Andrew Denny and the Bury Free Press’ editor Barry Peters who said: “Choosing a winner from six of the best entrants was a daunting task and a close run thing. In the end Eriswell Hall Barns had that extra spark that won the judges over.”
LBA, led by the Newspaper Society, has won praise from high places. Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday: “Congratulations to all the winners of the Local Business Accelerators scheme. It’s brilliant that so many promising young companies, from such a wide range of sectors, are benefiting from this excellent initiative.
“Entrepreneurship, creativity and ambition are essential for our economic recovery and through Local Business Accelerators, newspapers such as the Bury Free Press, are supporting some great new British businesses to grow, and helping boost their local economy.
“I wish the newspapers, businesses and their mentors every success over the coming months.”
The winners of each local paper’s competition will also benefit from regional workshops to be run by the Business Growth Fund.
Its chief executive Stephen Welton said: “Our workshops will help business owners to think about how they can expand; how they can reach new audiences and new markets; how they can begin exporting and how they can raise the capital that they might need to fund their ambitions.
“I am delighted to lend my support to the Local Business Accelerators initiative which is offering a powerful boost to young businesses throughout the UK.”