THE search for Tees Valley's best young businesses draws to a close today when the winner of the Shell live wire awards will be announced at the Arc, Stockton.

The challenge is open to young people aged 16 to 30 who have started their own business.

Stockton council is the host for this year's event, along with local sponsors including Redcar and Cleveland council, Tees Valley TEC and City Centre Training.

Seven concerns have been short listed for the 2001 awards. They are: J L Riddle Design Studio, Stockton, textile products; A M Spark and Wire, Darlington, wire erosion specialists; Chilli Media, Middlesbrough, internet and multi media; Interactive Media Solutions, Middlesbrough, ICT services for disabled people; Frontier Europe, Stockton -inward investment services; Michael's, Darlington, bakery; Ellahi and Pinkney, Middlesbrough, creative advertising and design.

Stockton mayor Coun Pete Andrew will present the winner's prize of £1,000 and runners-up awards of £500, £250 and £100.

The winner will go on to the northern regional final in May.

Stockton council's cabinet member for regeneration and development Coun Bob Cook said: "These awards are a marvellous way of encouraging young people into employment and setting up in business.

"They are a fantastic opportunity for young business people and I am delighted Stockton is playing host this year.

"All the young entrepreneurs who have been short listed are to be congratulated and will benefit from the experience. It would be great if the national winner came from Tees Valley."

Ann Featherstone of City Centre Training is the local Shell Live Wire co-ordinator.

"As part of their entries, all the businesses had to submit business plans to be assessed by an independent panel of judges," she said.

"All have been impressive and can take credit from reaching the Tees Valley final."

The top Tees Valley company will go on to the northern region final, the winner of which will be up against 10 other top young businesses from across the UK.

Ultimately, a first prize of £10,000 is at stake, along with the title.

Share care

with special


STOCKTON council's child placement team has two information sessions next week on sharing the caring.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the ground floor committee room in the town hall will be open for anyone to drop in and find out what sharing the caring is all about.

Child placement team manager Jackie Ward said: "Sharing the caring is a form of fostering in which children and young people with special needs are placed with foster carers for short breaks.

"This allows their parents to have a break from the often constant pressure of caring for them and offers the child a positive experience of being separated from them."

The Tuesday session is 10am-noon and the Wednesday one runs from 6pm-8pm.Those who cannot attend but would like more information should call 01642 397212.