Children’s swimming teaching company Mini Swim Stars will have office space in Colchester city centre and a business support package worth £8000 after winning a business competition run by the Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) to mark its 40th anniversary. 
The John Russell Award was opened to businesses this year in recognition of Colbea’s anniversary, and the long service to the Agency of John Russell. John became a Director of Colbea in 1987 and was President for ten years until 2022. 
Three businesses were shortlisted to pitch to a judging panel for prizes including the main award, a year’s virtual office package and business support. Alongside Mini Swim Stars, HR Prime won second prize, with Graph Solutions coming in third. 
John Russell commented: “It was an honour to be part of the judging process and hear just what a difference this support prize would make to young businesses. All entries were compelling, but Mini Swim Stars stood out as a worthy winner, with exciting plans for expansion across Essex as part of its mission to enable access to swimming for all school-age children. 
Clare Beckett, founder of Mini Swim Stars who lives in Colchester has already moved into her office space at Colbea’s Colchester City Centre enterprise centre. She had been running the business from her home office, and the prize has enabled the expansion of her business, as Clare explains. 
“I was so excited to win first prize, and I have already moved in,” says Clare. “It is so nice to be able to open the door to my own office, sit at my desk and have some headspace to work on how to take the business where we need to be. 
“We have big plans for growth and employing local people. We are really focusing on growing our Your School Pool programme, where we take portable pools into schools. It’s a shocking fact that more than half of all school children can’t swim, and it's not helped by the fact that so many schools don’t have access to pools. 
“Through our schools programme, we bring the pool to the school. We deliver and install a heated temporary swimming pool that the school rents and we also supply all the equipment and the teaching staff to run lessons. We can help all those children who can’t swim and open the space up for the community too. One in three adults are also unable to swim and having a local pool with private lessons makes learning accessible.” 
Through the programme, Mini Swim Stars are seeing promising results, with 90% of children in the programme achieving a minimum twenty-five metre back and front swimming and rescue skills. With a new Colchester base, Clare hopes to see swim schools in schools across Essex and is supporting a community swimming pool renovation project at Alresford Primary School, due to open in September 2024. Free business advice and mentoring is available to all small businesses in Colchester and Tendring through Colbea 

Media contact: Kate Everett kate@twi.agency Telephone: 07818060893 

Visit Mini Swim Stars: www.miniswimstars.com 

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