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

The event, held at Middlesbrough’s 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, supported 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.

Teachers have reported improvements not only in pupils’ reading ability but also in their motivation, enthusiasm and confidence.

  • The full list of winners at the best new business awards are:
  • Overall Winner – Sound Training for Reading;
  • Community Award, sponsored by Five Lamps Organisation – Patchwork People, of Darlington;
  • Award for Creative Industries, sponsored by last year’s winner Double Eleven – Coatsink Software, of Middlesbrough;
  • Environmental Award, sponsored by Northstar Ventures – Innov8 Disposal, of Stockton;
  • Award for Manufacturing, sponsored by North East Chamber of Commerce – Pyemetric Refractories, of Middlesbrough;
  • Marketing Award, sponsored by Tilly Bailey and Irvine – School House Recruitment, of Stockton;
  • Retail Award, sponsored by Stockton Borough Council – Lots of Loveliness, of Middlesbrough;
  • Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council – Name4Game, of Darlington.

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