AS judges prepare to shortlist entries in our Local Business Accelerators initiative, one of last year’s winners is reporting good times.

We’re one of 500 newspapers across the UK to take part in the scheme, which aims to boost promising young businesses through free advertising and mentoring.

Firms aged between one and five years old can win a free ad campaign plus mentoring support from local business leaders with regional winners going forward to the national stage to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and an advertising campaign devised by a top London ad agency.

Last year Martin Hill Photography and web-based business Azana Photo Frames won the Somerset heat and visitors to Sunday’s Christmas market in Taunton got the chance to meet Karen Lang, of Azana, at her stall.

She said: “I had a very fantastic day with the sales nearly treble since the Jubilee Family Funday in June. I’ve had many positive feedback and comments with a few saying ‘your stall is very eye catching and very different, we need a shop like this in town'.

“I sold out of some lines by mid-afternoon and ran out of 2,000 leaflets.

“I’m sorry to disappoint some people that I haven’t got a shop but the good news is I’ve reserved a double pitch for next year at the same spot.”

For more on the business, click here.

Entries this year have closed and judges will meet this week to shortlist the finalists.