A MARKETING consultant from Bangor-on-Dee has been declared The Prince's Trust Cymru Mentor of the Year for 2003.
Stephen Wilkins, 53, has been supporting young people setting up their own businesses since 1996, and has been mentor to around 20 young entrepreneurs in North East Wales.
As a marketing consultant specialising in pharmaceutical packaging and plastics, Stephen has a wealth of experience to draw on in helping young people to set up customer bases and establish themselves in their businesses.
Stephen said: 'I'm very pleased - it was very kind of them to give me an award, but I'm just one of around 600 mentors, each giving their expertise to the scheme. I would like to see more people in Wrexham coming forward to volunteer.
'It's very difficult to be self-employed these days. There are many pressures and responsibilities and I remember needing advice myself years ago, which I had to pay for. The Prince's Trust is a wonderful institution and I think that, if someone can come from nowhere and keep things going, it will be the catalyst to lead on to other things. I get a lot of satisfaction from doing this and I think it's extremely worthwhile.'
Stephen, who runs his business with his wife from his home in a disused mill, has also run a number of marketing seminars for the Trust.
Richard Newton, head of marketing and fundraising for the Trust, said: 'Stephen is one of 600 volunteers who play a vital role in helping more than 5,000 young people in Wales each year to get their lives working, to reach their full potential.
'In doing so, Stephen has not only helped the young person but has helped the community in which they live. The work that Stephen does is a tribute to all our mentors.'
The mentor and the young entrepreneur meet regularly and discuss any problems that he or she may have. The partnership usually runs for more than two years, until the business is well established and the young person has the confidence to go it alone.
The Trust starts 430 young people in businesses each year, helping with the provision of low interest loans and grants, and two thirds are still trading as they enter their third year.
Anne Marie Koukourava, head of customer development for Lloyds TSB Insurance, said: 'We are proud to be sponsors of this deserving award.'