A YOUNG entrepreneur is being recognised for her business acumen.

Gill Chapple, 24, a Durham University graduate, had no experience of the hotel industry when she developed www.bedsearcher.co.uk - an online hotel booking website.

Eighteen months later, it has become the UK's largest network of independently managed hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts.

Ms Chapple, a director of Darlington's Central Leisure, which operates the website, has been shortlisted for the North East Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 Award.

Ms Chapple said: "With bedsearcher, the intention was to create and build something unique which would enable small hotels to compete on a level playing field with the large multi-national companies.

"To have been so successful in such a short space of time reflects all the effort we have put into making bedsearcher work for both customers and hotels.

"As the director of a growing local company, it is fantastic to receive the recognition that this nomination brings."

Four hundred hotels have signed up to the online network which is run by three full-time staff.

* The Young Entrepreneur Awards, sponsored by Business Link, are held at The Assembly Rooms, in Newcastle, on November 28.