When your job helping the unemployed back into work disappears there’s only thing left to do- start your own business

A MOTHER of four who lost her job helping to get the unemployed back into work is in the running for a national award after starting her own business.

For more than 15 years Sharon Aldridge ran seminars for the jobless but in March government funding ran out and she found herself trading places with her clients.

Now, thanks to an idea that was born at a Spanish market, she is selling customised pet collars on a market stall in Sheringham - and is in the running for a national prize.

Mrs Aldridge, from Croft Road, Upwell, has got to the second stage of First Pitch - a contest run by the National Market Traders’ Federation.

Having reached the semi-final, she has received a free five-week pitch on Sheringham market.

And if she wins, she will join other entrepreneurs across the UK in getting reduced rates for a year and a �2,000 cash prize.

Mrs Aldridge, who is married to Thomas and the mother of 15-year-old Rupert, Tilly, 10, and three-year-old Lottie, said: “I had always run these seminars with the message that people should think about doing something different. I thought it was time to practice what I preached.”

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She added: “I bought some collars in Spain and had never seen anything like them in the UK. I went back and checked out the hand-made collars, and attached different things to them to customise them.

Mrs Aldridge, who gets the unadorned collars from Spain and from a supplier in Norfolk, attaches names, charms, decorations and all sorts of “bling” to dog cat and even horse collars, according to the customers’ requests.

She said: “When I started out, I thought it was going to happen overnight. But you have to build it up. It’s partly reputation and people getting to see what you’ve produced.”

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