Friday, 04 September 2015

Judges appointed for Cumbria's Local Business Accelerators scheme

An expert panel of successful Cumbrian businesspeople are preparing to give budding entrepreneurs the benefit of their experience.

Chris Reay photo
Chris Reay

Executives from a string of leading county firms have agreed to act as judges in the Local Business Accelerators (LBA) scheme, which offers £15 million of free advertising and mentoring to promising young enterprises across the UK.

The Cumberland News is backing the drive, led nationally by the Newspaper Society and fronted by Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.

Businesses have until November 16 to enter and must be between one and five years old. Six local winners will each benefit from £10,000 of free advertising in this newspaper and its sister publications, the News & Star, Whitehaven News and Times & Star.

They will also get professional mentoring from established local business people.

The identity of those mentors can today be revealed.

In east Cumbria, they are Katie Milbourn, director of the multi-award winning Walby Farm Park attraction on the outskirts of Carlisle, which she and her husband Neil have built into a thriving enterprise.

She is joined by Chris Reay, managing director of Wigton-based Reays Coaches, the family-run firm that has grown to become one of the north’s biggest travel firms and has taken on bus giants Stagecoach with its City Hopper service in Carlisle.

The line-up in the east is completed by Charles Watt, finance director with Penrith-based Cranstons Quality Butchers.

In west Cumbria, the mentors are Bill Dobie, of successful car dealers Dobies and Andy Hooper of West Lakes Engineering.

Other judges will come from the University of Cumbria and Carlisle-based accountancy firm Armstrong Watson, which are sponsoring the campaign in Cumbria.

The 2011 winners were Solway Communications and Pixie and Bob’s in Carlisle, Cumbria Box at Ousby, Madame Gerties Emporium in Workington, Wright Sports Services at Cockermouth, and Moky Fit at Wilton, Egremont. Solway Communications made it to the national final but lost to overall winner Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire.

To enter, visit


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