FOLLOWING months of applications and deliberation, the Pioneer can reveal the Local Business Accelerators winners.

They are Matt Finish, based on the Phoenix Industrial Estate, Ellesmere Port; bedroom-based balloon sculpture firm Funky Floaters of Burton, Wirral; and High Street Spa of Hoole, Chester.

The runners-up were Andrew and Sharon Leather of Wirral Mowers, based in Clayhill Industrial Estate, Neston; Charlotte Pitt of Split The Difference, a VW Camper hire company based in Maes Cilan, Cilcain, Mold; and Jackie McLuckie, of The Shrewsbury Arms, Little Budworth.

The £15m contest received more than 3,000 entries and was backed by 500 newspapers, offering free advertising and mentoring to the country’s most promising companies.

The bold LBA programme, backed by Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, was spearheaded by the Newspaper Society.

Theere were dozens of entries and a shortlist of candidates was whittled down to three winners by judges John Newton-Jones, chairman of Cheshire and North Wales chamber of commerce, Phil Harris, executive dean of Faculty Business at the University of Chester, and Jack Stopforth, CEO of the Liverpool Chamber.

The three winners will receive free advertising space and mentoring.

The trio of firms are all less than five years old and have a turnover of less than £1m.

Matt Whitfield of kitchen re-spray company Matt Finish based on the Phoenix Industrial Estate, Ellesmere Port, has built up his business over two decades with a current annual turnover of £120,000.

He said: “It’s tremendous to win, it’s just brilliant. My business is like my baby – I believe in it so much. It’s just good to get a bit of recognition.”

Katy Robinson of High Street Spa, Hoole, Chester, has turned student beauty therapists into a winning business model with an annual turnover of £36,000.

She wanted mentoring because she felt – despite her success – she still had a lot to learn and achieve.

Katy said: “We are delighted that High Street Spa has won. The impact this could have on the growth of the business is huge and will enable us to create employment opportunities for many, many more people.

“It’s wonderful someone else has seen the potential in our business concept.”

Angela Griffiths transformed her bedroom-based balloon decoration company Funky Floaters into a successful enterprise based in Burton Nurseries, turning over £5,000.

She said: “I’m just really amazed. I only started in my bedroom, so it’s just really great to get any feedback and recognition.”

Angela hopes the advertising and mentoring will help her take the business ‘to the next level’.

“I entered for the mentoring – it’ll be so beneficial,” she added.