A MECHANIC who overcame funding obstacles to set up his own garage has won a contract to keep a life-saving service on the road.

Gary Evis opened Woodside MOT & Service Centre on Middlesbrough’s Riverside Park Industrial Estate18 months ago, when he secured £3,000 funding from Tata Steel’s business support fund, UK Steel Enterprise after banks refused to finance the move.

Woodside has now serviced and repaired hundreds of cars and motorcycles and completed more than 700 MOT tests, as well as winning the contract to maintain the Tees Valley’s vital Blood Run Emergency Volunteer Service’s vehicles. Mr Evis is set to take on his first employee to help with the growing workload.

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The 50-year-old, who lives in Stockton, said “Eighteen months ago I had reached the stage where I was totally demoralised with the struggle to start a business.

“I came back to the UK after living in France for six years but the only job I was offered was delivering pizzas and I wanted to use my skills and qualifications. I had owned a motor cycle shop before so knew that I could make a go of it but I couldn’t get any help anywhere, not even a bank overdraft, to help finance premises and equipment.

“I was just about to give up when I was told about UK Steel Enterprise and they were brilliant. The £3,000 I desperately needed to complete my investment was provided really quickly and Chris Hope gave me lots of support and encouragement. I was virtually down to my last penny when I opened the doors but I’ve worked 70 to 80 hours a week and now the business is really taking off.”

Rob Adams of Blood Run EVA said “We make about 30 runs every month taking vital blood samples and tissues to hospitals. It is vital that our three motorcycles and two quad bikes are reliable and in top condition to cope with all situations and weathers for our 25 volunteer riders.

“At this time of year with the possibility of bad weather conditions we are very grateful for the winter bikes that UK Steel Enterprise helped to provide and to have Gary’s expertise available.”