Dragons Den star Piers Linney inspires young entrepreneurs in Farnworth

The Bolton News: Jayne Cunliffe with some of the  Vend-a-Spend team at St James’s CE High School Jayne Cunliffe with some of the Vend-a-Spend team at St James’s CE High School

DRAGONS’ Den star Piers Linney met his match when a group of bold young entrepreneurs handed him a dossier on their thriving business.

The four students from St James’s CE High School, in Farnworth, met the Dragon when he spoke at the University of Bolton.

Although the get-together was mainly university staff, students and the town’s business elite, the youngsters were able to attend after their headteacher received an invitation.

And they took full advantage of the opportunity, with Manisha Sitpura, aged 15, standing up at the end of the event to pick Mr Linney’s brains before heading to the front to hand over details of their successful Vend-a-Spend business.

She said: “I was quite nervous when I went up to speak, but once I started asking him questions, it didn’t faze me. He was a really nice guy and there was a friendly atmosphere.”

Vend-a-Spend sells stationary, Fairtrade products and handmade gifts to the school’s students.

Manisha added: “I was really inspired. It was a privilege to meet someone who has the experience and success that Piers Linney has.

“He is proof that if you work hard, you can achieve anything.”

After starting out as a vending machine in 2009, Vend-a-Spend has expanded into a fully functional shop in a school portable cabin and has 32 members.

The Vend-a-Spend team is currently looking at setting up a website for the business.

Jayne Cunliffe, the school’s curriculum support co-ordinator, said: “It was a great experience for the pupils. They really seemed to get it and enjoyed every minute of it.

“They probably think they could teach Piers a thing or two. I keep joking with Manisha that, when she’s Prime Minister, this is a moment she’ll look back on.

“When she approached Piers Linney at the end the whole place erupted.”

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