RIVER inspector Matthew Ryan joined the Environment Agency in Peterborough three years to the day that he won the competition that will change his life. The 29-year-old will quit his job and commit himself to A&M Covers, the business he is setting up afte

RIVER inspector Matthew Ryan joined the Environment Agency in Peterborough three years to the day that he won the competition that will change his life.

The 29-year-old will quit his job and commit himself to A&M Covers, the business he is setting up after winning The Hunts Post's Change Your Life for £1 competition.

The final of the competition, organised with Huntingdonshire District Council, took place at the Creative Exchange building in St Neots last Tuesday (September 22).

Six finalists faced the Dragons - businessmen from across Cambridgeshire - to see if their idea had what it takes to win a business start-up package worth £10,000.

Matthew, who lives in Yaxley with his wife Amy, was triumphant. His company will make bespoke covers for boats.

Prior to working for the EA, Matthew was trained to make sails and boat covers. His old boss - who has since retired - had his own technique for making covers. This is something he passed on to Matthew and something which will form the basis of A&M Covers.

"I can make the templates for the covers in almost any weather and not many other businesses can do that," he said. "I have always wanted to start my own part-time business, but when my wife spotted this competition it was too good an opportunity to miss and I went for it."

After attending one of the competition workshops, Matthew spent three evenings on his business plan and filling in the application form with his aims and his passion for making bespoke covers.

He will take up residency at the Creative Exchange - part of the competition prize - in about six weeks' time, and begin building his business with the help of the Dragons.

"I'm going to speak to a couple of the Dragons first and decide what's the best was forward, then I need to get some equipment before opening for business."

Matthew added: "I thought all the finalists had fantastic ideas and when the winner was being announced I stood right at the back thinking I could make a quick exit. Winning came as a total shock."

INFORMATION: Details about how to contact A&M Covers will be printed in The Hunts Post at a later date.