Award winning Bellingham businesswoman Sarah Breckons has shelled out praise for local support programme, Business Northumberland, for the success and growth of her start-up.

Spent Shells, set up only a year ago by Sarah, is a fashion gift and homeware business which makes its merchandise with by-products from feathers and gun cartridges. It is located in rural Bellingham Northumberland, 18 miles from the nearest town.

Since Sarah discovered the support available through Business Northumberland, she has utilised the advice on offer through the fully funded programme to help her new business venture. From a first initial meeting with a Business Growth Adviser to help talk through her business goals, workshops to help build the website and attending the monthly #LoveHexham networking meetings.

Business Northumberland provides support to small and medium enterprises across the North East who are looking to sustain and grow their business and is match funded by the England European Regional Development Fund and Advance Northumberland, so there is no cost to eligible businesses.

Sarah recently won Best Rural Start-Up at the Rural Business Awards 2019 and thanks to the connections she made at Business Northumberland’s #LoveHexham networking meeting she had the confidence to apply.

“Business Northumberland has made me feel like I have a secure network of people and business contacts so if I ever felt like I was overwhelmed or that I was really struggling in a certain area, I have people to call and connect with. The #LoveHexham monthly meetings make me feel like I have people that I work with, even though I don’t work directly with a lot of them, although I have worked with quite a few.”

“I wouldn’t have applied for the award if I didn’t have the confidence. I’ve worked alongside several businesses I met through the programme, we have our own little network, who reached out to me with messages of good luck and I felt like I had a real team behind me”

“We are all in this together all trying to make our small – medium businesses successful… empowerment is a massive thing I have gained that through Business Northumberland.”