HUNTINGDONSHIRE S Dragons seem to have breathed fire into a new St Neots business. Former river inspector Matthew Ryan, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday, was chosen by a panel of professional and business experts as winner of a start-up package

HUNTINGDONSHIRE'S Dragons seem to have breathed fire into a new St Neots business.

Former river inspector Matthew Ryan, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday, was chosen by a panel of professional and business experts as winner of a start-up package worth £10,000 in the first year.

He has now moved into his rent-free accommodation at Huntingdonshire District Council's Creative Exchange in St Neots from where he runs A&M Covers, a business making and repairing covers for boats.

"So far it's going really well," he told The Hunts Post on Monday. "I have some good orders lined up and plenty to do, and my new website is generating quite a few enquiries.

"I used to work as a yacht broker when the economy was happier, and I'm getting calls from a lot of old contacts. Once word spreads, it seems to snowball and generate orders.

"People are looking after their boats better now, because they don't want to upgrade at the moment, so there's a lot of potential work. They are expensive assets," added Matthew, who trained as a sail maker.

As well as a year's rent-free accommodation, the start-up package included newspaper and web advertising, accountancy, taxation and legal advice, marketing and sales consultancy, membership of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce and business mentoring.

"So far, I've used only the solicitors, accountant and business mentor - mostly accountancy advice.

"Simon Laskey of Haines Watts has been really helpful. He has really gone out of his way.