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Ex-steelman gets kick-start to be a bookie; ENTREPRENEURS: Partnership fund gives fledgling businesses advice and support.


A FORMER steelworker has realised a long-held ambition to run his own bookmaking business.

Stephen Cook's Cookies Bookies is now cantering out of the starting gates at Soffryd, near Crumlin.

Mr Cook, who worked for 25 years at the Ebbw Vale steelworks, was helped to launch the turf accountancy with a pounds 1,250 grant from the UK Steel Enterprise Kick Start Fund and is already doing good business.

"My market research has shown there is a strong demand for a local bookmaker in the area offering competitive odds, " he said. "The nearest is three miles away and many people don't want to travel to have a flutter."

Mr Cook now hopes to expand in due course, opening more shops and employing local people.

The Kick Start Fund is a partnership between Corus subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and Venture Wales, and applies to business start-ups located in Blaenau Gwent.

It offers grants of up to pounds 3,000 to grass-roots businesses and also brings together all advice and support services available to fledgling firms.

The council's divisional manager for business services, David Maunder, said, "There has been an excellent response to this scheme and many more applications are in the pipeline."

Another new entrepreneur, Adrian Robbins, has benefited to the tune of pounds 677 to help him get AJs Fast Foods off the ground.

He sells fast food from a mobile van at the former Garden Festival site in Ebbw Vale and in other locations, and is full of praise for the scheme.

"The people at Kick Start were so helpful and came to a decision very quickly, " he said.

"I could not have done it without them."

UK Steel Enterprise has put a pounds 60,000 cash injection into the fund.


CHANGE OF DIRECTION: Former steelworker Stephen Cook in his bookmaker's shop, Cookies Bookies Picture: Simon Ridgway
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 9, 2002
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