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Five start-up businesses shortlisted to become the Toon's sponsor for the day


  • The winner of the Start-Up Loans initiative will be a Newcastle United ‘sponsor for the day’
  • A range of sponsorship opportunities will be made available by Virgin Money
  • The winner’s name will be proudly displayed at the home fixture against Liverpool
  • The winner will be selected through a public vote

Five new businesses that have received a Start-Up Loan through Project North East, have been shortlisted to win the opportunity to become a ‘sponsor for the day’ of Newcastle United, in the home Premiership fixture against Liverpool, on 27 April.

The shortlist of five was announced on 26 February, when Sir Richard Branson visited Virgin Money’s Gosforth office to meet with around 50 young entrepreneurs who have successfully obtained a Start-Up Loan to launch their business. The lucky entrepreneurs that run the five short-listed companies met on the famous St. James Park pitch today to celebrate their nominations and they were joined by Newcastle United stars James Perch and Mathieu Debuchy.

The five short-listed companies and their proud owners are:

The five start-up businesses shortlisted to sponsor Newcastle United for the day; Choclateas, Montagu DIY & Hardware, Bloom Studio, R-House, AIM Dance Group‘Choclateas’ – run by Jodi and Stella Kean - make natural and organic chocolate teas, with flavoured extracts such as chilli, vanilla and much more.

‘Montagu DIY & Hardware’ – run by Andrew Emmerson - a new DIY and Hardware store in Montagu, Newcastle, focusing on selling items for general repairs in the home.

‘Bloom Studio’ – run by Martin Davies – produces bespoke, high quality and engaging animated films for any medium or platform.

‘R-House’ – run by Stewart Platt – a music promotion company specialising in the marketing and promotion of events.

‘AIM Dance Group’ – run by Jessica Henron and Galina Hewitt – a dance company that caters for all
sorts of styles and individual abilities, for all ages.

Start-Up Loans are delivered in the North East and Cumbria through Project North East – supported by a consortium including Virgin Money, Virgin Unite and The Northern Rock Foundation. As part of this exciting scheme for young entrepreneurs, aged 18-30, Virgin Money has made available some of its sponsorship facilities for Newcastle United’s prestigious home game against Liverpool, which is due to be televised on 27 April. The winner will see its brand advertised around the ground on the LED perimeter boards as well as in the match day programme.

To win that opportunity, the shortlisted entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the public online, from 1 March 2013. The public can then vote and the business with most votes when voting is closed on 31 March will become ‘sponsor for the day’ for the Liverpool game. Public votes may be cast by following the link below:

When Sir Richard Branson met with the young entrepreneurs in Gosforth he had some encouraging words about Start-Up Loans and for those trying to make their way in the world with their own company. He said: “This is often about handing over fairly small sums of money to help develop the new ‘Virgins’ of the future. I met a lot of entrepreneurs in the North East and there was a wonderful variety – companies offering everything from clothing to candles and tea – all trying to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

Richard Clark, Director of Workspace at Project North East said: “Project North East is delighted to be helping young people to launch their business with a Start-Up Loan. The five shortlisted companies really stood out and this is a fantastic opportunity for them to have their brand advertised for free to a massive audience. I am sure they all deserve the opportunity and I wish them luck, but there can be only one winner.”

Sir Tom Shebbeare, Chairman of Virgin Money Giving and of the consortium, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for these aspiring young entrepreneurs to advertise their brand. They have already demonstrated that they have a great business idea and with the help of a Start-Up Loan, they are now turning that great idea into an exciting business of the future. Sir Richard Branson is synonymous with entrepreneurship and we are delighted to be able to support this great initiative here in the North East and Cumbria.”


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The Start-Up Loans scheme for young entrepreneurs was formally launched at Virgin Money’s Gosforth headquarters on Tuesday 20 November 2012. Virgin

Virgin Money has partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) to form a consortium in the delivery of ‘Start-Up Loans’ – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.

The consortium also provides a training, mentoring and engagement programme, to enable unemployed young people and young people from the region’s deprived areas to learn how to run a business and to find out more about the Start-Up Loans programme.

PNE is regulated under the consumer credit act and is responsible for making the loans and administering the full lending process. PNE has nearly thirty years experience of successfully undertaking this type of work in the region, partnering organisations such as the Sainsbury family trusts and Royal Dutch Shell. More information about PNE can be found at and information on start-up loans can be found at

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), through Start-Up Loans, is providing funding of £1 million, to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria. The initiative is aimed at young entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age. Loan sizes are between £250 and £25,000, with an average of around £5,000.