Ipswich: Former bank manager scoops Star’s business award

ONE former Ipswich bank manager is today setting his sights on new customers for his battlefield adventure business after scooping The Evening Star’s much-coveted Local Business Accelerators Award.

After a shoot-out for top spot against worthy runner-up Storm Recruitment Services of Ipswich, Graham Simons of Battlefield Live East Anglia emerged victorious.

Graham, who used to work as a bank manager at HSBC’s Museum Street branch in Ipswich, is delighted and believes the prize of free advertising will unlock new markets around the town.

The nationwide campaign, which was launched in October by nearly 500 regional and local newspapers across the country, is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Deborah Meaden from the hit TV show Dragons’ Den.

Under the scheme, around 1,500 firms between one and three years old will receive a total of �15million of free advertising to help boost their businesses during 2012.

And one lucky business among the regional winners will receive the additional prize of mentoring support from Deborah Meaden.

“We are absolutely delighted about winning the competition and look forward to working with The Evening Star to promote our fledgling business. The Local Business Accelerators inititiative has all the hallmarks of a major boost for enterprise in these recessionary times,” said Graham.

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Battlefield Live is a concept, open to anyone from the age of seven to 70, brought over from Australia. Graham bought the equipment and set up his own company in 2009 with 20 gaming guns on a site at Wildtracks Outdoor activity centre at Newmarket. He now runs a series of four sites across Forestry Commission sites in East Anglia, including one at Rendlesham Forest, and is planning to open a fifth in Peterborough in the spring.

Players are dressed in combat gear and equipped with computerised infra-red ‘guns’ which tell them when they have hit a target. They are split into teams and given a series of challenges.

“The idea is instead of sitting on a couch with thumbs only, let’s get out into the forest and have a great time with our friends,” explained the 55-year-old, who is a non-executive director of the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and now lives at Great Barton.

Graham, who lived in Ipswich for about 20 years, said he sees newspaper advertising in the Star as a great way to get his message across.

“The thing for us if we were to go out into the high street in Ipswich and said what’s paint ball, most would know. Battlefield Live most wouldn’t know. Newspaper advertising can get that message over to explain what it is,” he said.

“This is exactly what we need to drive the business forward.”

n How can local businesses boost trade? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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