A CUMBRIAN eco entrepreneur has teamed up with a specialist plastics manufacturer in a bid to develop her invention.

Sally Phillips, owner of Chimney Sheep, based in Maryport, has joined forces with north east firm Omega Plastics.

The partnership means Ms Phillips has been able to develop her environmentally friendly draught excluders to include tougher plastic handles.

She said: “Since we began trading the business has experienced a six-fold increase in orders which has also led to a surge in requests from customers wanting a bigger product for larger fireplaces.

“To meet demand we made a prototype in-house but it was clear the original handles and clamps weren’t suitable. “It is absolutely crucial that the plastic components are precisely tooled to fit together tightly enough to give a firm hold.

“Having the tooling and manufacturing on one site made the development and production process more efficient and cost-effective. Omega’s acute attention to detail also ensures that we always have a high-quality end product.”

Ms Phillips’s unique draught excluder prevents heat loss from open fireplaces using felted Lakeland wool from Herdwick sheep.

She has sold over 40,000 draught excluders since launching the business four years ago.

To date, the sales equate to around 10,000 Herdwick sheep fleeces. The company orders 1km (0.6 miles) of Herdwick felt at a time, which is one tonne of wool.

The company also has a distributor covering the USA with sales averaging 2,000 products per year.

During the last 18 months, Ms Phillips has invested over £120,000 developing the business, including moving to larger premises in the Solway Industrial Estate, where the products are assembled, investing in new equipment, product testing, re-design and tooling. She employs two full-time and two part-time staff.

Michael Winship, business development manager at Omega Plastics, said: “Helping our customers to realise their concepts and get their products into the marketplace is what drives us.”