A BUSINESS owner is about to celebrate 15 years of trade after starting out with a £500 grant from The Prince's Trust.

Pest and bird control business Contego Response now employs 50 staff across the UK, including its North-East head office in Chilton, near Ferryhill.

Business founder Michael Taylor, now 33, from Spennymoor, was just 18 when he took part in The Trust’s Enterprise programme, which helps unemployed young people to start their own business, in 2004.

He received a £500 grant followed by a £1,500 loan, as well as an experienced business mentor for his first year of trading.

He said: "The money they gave me helped me to buy my first piece of proper equipment, a species-specific distress call unit, as well as fundamental things such as uniforms and business cards. But the advice and support I got from my mentor in setting out and developing my business plan was just as important, if not more."

The Prince’s Trust has helped over 85,000 young people start their own business. Visit princes-trust.org.uk