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28.02.03
Galloping start for business thanks to Finance Cornwall

Heads 'n' Tails
Bridie Mason of Heads 'N' Tails and business partner Martin Berk in costume, pictured right with Jeff Lenihan from Finance Cornwall.

Finance Cornwall, the Objective One funded £20 million investment fund for businesses in or locating to Cornwall, is supporting a start-up company in Camelford which provides horses and animals for historical re-enactments, films, videos and promotions.

The Finance Cornwall Business Loan Fund has provided £15,000 towards the £47,000 investment required to enable Heads 'N' Tails managing director Bridie Mason to launch the new business, the only company of its kind in the South West.

Investment is now underway to equip the 26-acre farm with all the necessary equipment and facilities to offer clients a complete historical re-enactment service including horses, costumed riders and even a specialist training service so that history enthusiasts can experience at first hand the excitement of charging a horse into battle.

The deal with Finance Cornwall has enabled the company to lay a new all-weather surfaced area, with work underway to construct stabling, tack and feed rooms within a redundant barn to accommodate up to 25 horses.

Speaking about the assistance Finance Cornwall provided in starting up her business, Bridie said: "The loan from Finance Cornwall was vital to setting up the business. My experience of working with horses in the entertainment industry whilst living in Doncaster led me to want to start my own business, doing a job that I love.

"With the South West being one of the most commonly used locations for filmmaking in the UK, and with the development of the South West Film Studios at St Agnes, I realised that there was a captive market for the services that I can offer.

"Following my move down to Cornwall, I received advice and support from Enterprise Tamar. As well as helping me to develop a viable business plan they introduced me to Finance Cornwall, and they in turn have helped transform my dream of starting up my own business into reality.

"Although the business has only been fully operational for a short while, the hard work and investment is already starting to show promise, with many training sessions already booked and some major clients showing an interest in our services. As the business grows I already have plans to expand over the next three years, starting with a full-time groom who will join me next month. I hope to eventually extend my staff to four as our number of horses increases."

The new all-weather surface is making a real difference to training sessions, making it safer and more comfortable to practice stunts and train clients to learn the skills to ride their own or the company's horses in re-enactments, whatever the Cornish weather. Work is currently underway to construct the stabling area, which should be completed by the end of March.

Bridie was introduced to Finance Cornwall by Enterprise Tamar, one of the three enterprise agencies helping people throughout Cornwall to build their businesses.

Enterprise Tamar's North Cornwall business adviser John Coles said: "Bridie came to Enterprise Tamar with amazing enthusiasm and drive for her unusual new business. But unusual businesses can be incredibly difficult to find conventional money for, and the package on offer from the team at Finance Cornwall was exactly what she needed.

"We kept in close contact throughout the consideration of her application, and I have been really pleased with how Jeff and his team worked so hard to help this exciting new venture to get started."

Finance Cornwall's Business Loan Fund manager, Jeff Lenihan, said: "We are delighted to be able to help Heads 'N' Tails get off the ground. The difficulty encountered by Bridie is similar to many of the start-ups we assist, whose lack of a proven track-record can deter banks from lending the vital funding needed to get a business up and running.

"Finance Cornwall is often able plug the funding gap as we provide a range of finance options that are not available elsewhere. We were delighted to be able to help Bridie to get such a unique and viable business of to such a galloping start."

Finance Cornwall operates three different funds providing loans and equity investments ranging from £5,000 up to £650,000 to viable small and medium-sized businesses that cannot source all the funding they need from elsewhere.

This might be because the business is too small, it does not have a sufficient track record of trading, the balance sheet is weak or the business does not have enough collateral.

Funding is available to businesses whose principal place of operation is, or will be, in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly. The funds are managed by Alliance Fund Managers Ltd, which is regulated by the Financial Services Authority in the course of investment business.

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Editor's notes:

Finance Cornwall background

Finance Cornwall is a £20 million investment fund which is backed by £9 million from the Objective One European Regional Development Fund, £10.12 million from Barclays Bank and £880,000 from Cornwall County Council.

Finance Cornwall provides loans and equity investments ranging from just £5,000 up to £650,000 to small and medium-sized businesses in or locating to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that find it difficult to find funding from other sources.

The three funds are:

Business Loan Fund: loans from £5,000 up to £50,000 for viable, privately owned small and medium sized enterprises in Cornwall and Scilly whose funding needs cannot be fully met from other sources.

Mezzanine Loan Fund: loans from £50,000 to £250,000 with equity options for viable, privately owned small and medium sized enterprises in Cornwall and Scilly whose funding needs cannot be fully met from other sources.

Equity Fund: equity investment of between £50,000 and £500,000 for viable, privately owned small and medium sized enterprises in Cornwall and Scilly whose funding needs cannot be fully met from other sources. Attractive to businesses that have exhausted alternative loan or private resources but still need additional funds for growth.

Finance Cornwall funds are managed by Alliance Fund Managers Ltd, which is regulated by the Financial Services Authority in the course of investment business.

For more information contact:

Jeff Lenihan
Business Loan Fund Manager
Finance Cornwall
01872 272288

Bridie Mason
Heads 'N' Tails
01840 211194

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Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388

jason@dclark.co.uk

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