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Grant helps Tom get off to a Toonful start

A YOUNG entrepreneur has been given the helping hand he needs to get his business off the ground and is now setting his sights high.

Tom Welburn, of Grand Avenue, Camberley, has set up graphic design company Tom's Toons thanks to advice and funding from the Prince's Trust.

The company's inspiration comes from Tom's own experiences and his original idea came together when planning his wedding.

Tom's Toons specialises in wedding stationery with a difference — his employs caricatures of the bride and groom, carried as a theme across invitations, place names and thank-you letters.

Tom, 26, studied visual communication at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in Farnham and then went on to work in sales for three years to pay the bills.

He soon became restless and began to look for a career in graphics or illustration, but the heavy competition forced him to think again.

"I was just looking through some wedding magazines and came across companies that produce wedding stationery to order.

"I thought to myself that I could do something similar but with a twist and I decided to put my skills to good use and start my own business."

Tom's only difficulty was the lack of capital to set up the business and purchase the stock and equipment needed.

"I went to the Blackwater Valley Enterprise Trust and they were extremely helpful. They gave me more than two hours' free advice and helped me to write a business plan.

"They also put me in touch with the Prince's Trust in Leatherhead."

The Prince's Trust provides grants and loans to people starting out in business who have difficulty finding funding elsewhere.

Loans are awarded at very low interest rates and the repayments only start after six months of trading, in order to help the business get off the ground.

"The loan has helped me to start the business with all the necessary equipment and I have had the backup of the trust whenever I need it."

Tom plans to increase the repertoire of caricatures he produces to include keepsakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

A range of personalised Christmas cards is also available and caricatures can be black and white or colour.

Tom hopes the business will be a success and is looking forward to his own wedding in July.

"The feedback has so far been very positive and if that's anything to go by then it should go very well. In terms of measuring success, I'm looking for something to give me a good standard of living and am glad to be running my own business doing something I enjoy."

For more information on Tom and his Toons, log on to or call 0845 108 4520.


Charlotte Neal
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