Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, the Shell LiveWIRE awards are sponsored by organisations including Surrey County Council’s economic devel-opment office, Business Link Surrey and Surrey Chambers of Commerce.

It is open to young people aged 16-30 who have started their own business and have been trading not less than three months and not more than 18 months on the closing date.

Entrants to the Surrey competition have an opportunity to win cash awards and other prizes, with the winner going on to represent the county at the south-east regional final in the spring.

Nationally, more than £220,000 prize money is up for grabs.

Winners of the south-east regional heat will go on to compete with top young businesses from throughout the UK for a first prize of £10,000 and the prestigious title of ‘Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year’.

Local co-ordinator Rita Kelly said: “The LiveWIRE awards are a fantastic opportunity for young people to win a cash boost for their business and put them in the spotlight.

“It would be brilliant if the national winner of the 21st award was from Surrey, so come on, get those entries in now and who knows, by June, you could be at least £10,000 richer and be named as the UK’s Top Young Entrepreneur.”

One local entrepreneur who has benefited from the scheme is wine merchant Rupert Pritchett of Taurus Wines, who used his prize money from last year’s competition to convert a 16th century farm building in Bramley into a shop.

He also recently won a contract to supply wine to an offshore oil rig.

He said: “As well as the opportunity to win cash and get loads of great publicity, winning the award is the perfect advertisement for a new business. I would definitely encourage young entrepreneurs to enter.”

To enter, submit a business plan of no more than 15 sides of A4 paper together with an application form to Rita Kelly, Self Start, The Old Fire Station, Queen Street, Godalming, GU7 1BD.

An independent panel of judges will then assess all entries.