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Ipswich/ Colchester: New Anglia LEP’s Growing Business Fund backs job creation by swimming lessons firm First Strokes

15:18 03 March 2014

First Strokes directors Gillian and Alastair Dovey on the site of company

First Strokes directors Gillian and Alastair Dovey on the site of company's new training pool off Hadleigh Road in Ipswich.

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Essex-based company First Strokes, which offers innovation, award-winning swimming lessons for young children and adults, has secured a £100,000 grant to help it break into the Suffolk market.

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First Strokes, based at Ardleigh, near Colchester, has secured the sum from the Growing Business Fund established by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which covers Suffolk and Norfolk.

It will enable the company, founded by Gillian Dovey in 2000, to start work on the construction of a new teaching pool off Hadleigh Road in Ipswich.

The pool, which will incorporate the latest technology in water and energy saving devices. will offer group, parent and child, one-to-one and adult lessons. There will also be holiday activities and a party room.

First Strokes has created a range of lessons which offer progressive development in swimming for people of all ages, including the use of new software and handheld devices which teachers use to assess pupils and which enable parents to view their child’s progress.

Director Alastair Dovey said: “We’re really excited about developing our business, here in Suffolk, where we aim to create up to 35 part time jobs in the county. We would like to thank New Anglia for their support and investment through the grant.

“The process was simple, straightforward and has helped us develop the bespoke teaching facility. We have a unique and award winning offering for the children of Suffolk which we will launch at the end of this year.”

New Anglia LEP is urging more small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Suffolk and Norfolk to apply for a share of the £12million Growing Business Fund, which is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

The fund provides grants of up to 20%, between £25,000 and £500,000, to businesses that have a shortfall in their investment plan and are able to create at least one job for every £10,000 provided by the fund. So far, 26 businesses have been supported, leading to the creation of more than 400 new jobs, and leveraging more than £17m in matched funded investment to the two counties.

Chris Dashper, Growing Places Fund programme manager, said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this scheme to Suffolk and Norfolk businesses that are short on finance and need a cash injection. First Strokes will be investing in Suffolk for the first time and creating upwards of 35 part time jobs in the county.”

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