BATS led to Sally Phillips setting up her unique business nine years ago – and she hasn't looked back.

Her Chimney Sheep draught excluders – made from Herdwick wool – are now being used in tens of thousands of homes and she employs 10 people at her Maryport company.

"I used to be an ecologist and do the Bat Helpline for Natural England. People would ring about bats and I started thinking about chimneys," said Sally.

"I was quite surprised to see how many people keep them open – 11 million people – when it's like having a window open.

"But more than that it pulls warm air out of the property and lets in cold air.

"I've always been interested in environmental issues and reckoned it was a no brainer to have a chimney blocker made out of wool."

Sally created a prototype and her Chimney Sheep, made of a thick layer of felted Herdwick wool, has proved a big hit. She has sold more than 130,000 throughout the UK and also in the US.

The company, which has won various awards over the years, now produces a range of wool products, including insulation, shoe insoles, garden felt and products.

"I'm proud of what I have achieved. I was an ecologist, not an entrepreneur. I embarked on this thinking I would take it as far as I can," said Sally.

"I'm pleased to have a business that provides environmentally friendly products and benefits the environment.

"There are new challenges as we have grown, but I relish these challenges."

Sally is supporting Wool Week, which runs next month and aims to raise awareness about the British wool industry and versatility of the material.

Once a highly valued commodity in the UK, wool has been under-utilised for decades, with the price offered not even covering the cost of shearing, let alone transportation.

This has led to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of high-quality British wool being wasted for decades, with farmers being forced to burn or bury it after shearing.

To help combat this, Chimney Sheep has set up an annual wool sourcing project called Operation Wool. The ethos of the project is to support Cumbrian Herdwick farmers by sourcing wool directly from them.

Chimney Sheep buys it from the farmers at above the usual market rate. This benefits both parties: the farmers will be paid a better rate, whilst making it more cost-effective for Chimney Sheep Ltd by cutting out several sourcing steps.

This year, Chimney Sheep has bought 22 tonnes of wool – which equates to the wool from just over 20,000 Herdwick sheep. This represents about 25 per cent of the UK Herdwick population.

Once the wool has been collected from local farmers it is sent over to Yorkshire to be scoured and is processed as required.