AN INNOVATIVE scheme that’s helped thousands of pupils improve their reading was crowned overall winner at the Best New Business Awards.

The event, held at the Middlesbrough Riverside Stadium on Monday celebrates businesses that have been trading for three years or fewer.

Sound Training for Reading was named overall winner at the awards  promoted by Colin Brown of Lighthouse FA, Tees Valley Unlimited, Teesside University and PD Ports.

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The company based at Middlesbrough's DigitalCity Business hub also collected the Award for Service, sponsored by Middlesbrough Council.

Founder and managing director Katy Parkinson , said: “We have the children of Middlesbrough to thank for the effectiveness of this programme - it’s evolved as we responded to feedback from pupils and we’ve had really positive feedback from teachers, with one telling us he’d never seen so much learning going on in one hour.”

The intensive reading programme has already helped more than 5,000 youngsters improve their literacy skills. It is aimed at pupils who have potential but who are under-achieving in reading.

After putting it to the test teachers have reported improvements not only in pupils’ reading ability but also in their motivation, enthusiasm and self-confidence.

The company aims to continue its work raising the literacy levels of pupils across the region and across the UK.

Winners of Best New Business Awards 2012 are: 

• Sound Training for Reading, based in Middlesbrough, Overall Winner sponsored by Tees Valley Unlimited and Lighthouse FA, and Award for Service sponsored by Middlesbrough Council.
• Patchwork People, based in Darlington, Community Award, sponsored by Five Lamps Organisation.
• Coatsink Software, based in Middlesbrough, Award for Creative Industries, sponsored by last year’s winner Double Eleven.
• Innov8 Disposal, based in Stockton, Environmental Award, sponsored by Northstar Ventures.
• Pyemetric Refractories, based in Middlesbrough, Award for Manufacturing, sponsored by North East Chamber of Commerce.
• School House Recruitment, based in Stockton, Marketing Award, sponsored by Tilly Bailey & Irvine
.• Lots of Loveliness, based in Middlesbrough, Retail Award, sponsored by Stockton Borough Council.
• Name4Game, based in Darlington, Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council.

Each category winner received £500 with the overall winner receiving a further £1,000.