JUDITH Mashiter is hoping her scholarship to study an MA in entrepreneurship at The University of Durham will be helpful to everyone who lives in her local community.

The 40-year-old from Middleton-in-Teesdale landed the top prize in the Northern Echo competition, worth more than £10,000, and aims to put it in to very good use.

She said: "I couldn't believe I had won the place and I was surprised and delighted.

"It will definitely be of benefit both to myself, and in my line of work as a company director and community development worker.

"It will be a great way of learning from other people on the course, and exploring new ways to tackle problems that are experienced every day at work."

Judith won the prize by describing what she believed was meant by entrepreneurship, and the benefits of a place on the two year part-time course.

She said: "In its very essence entrepreneurship cannot be delivered as a taught package, but rather it is a process of development and exploration."

As a community development worker for Middleton Plus Judith works in the remote and sparcely populated area of the North Pennines.

In the seven years since its formation, it has experienced rapid growth in one aspect of its work - independently receiving single regeneration budget (SRB) grant for community-based tourism development.

The group conducted a comprehensive community appraisal, and then used the results as the basis of a funding application for a part-time co-ordinator - a post taken up by Judith in 1998.

She added: "As it matures Middleton Plus must continue to be an entrepreneurial organisation. I feel confident that my participation in the Durham MA would be an exciting and extremely worthwhile experience."

lTwo runners up, Jason Woodruff and Douglas Bannister will receive half scholarships from the business school.