A Hereford-based natural gardening company that wants to keep garden worms wiggling has been crowned Central England British Small Business Champion.
Wiggly Wigglers, run by managing director Heather Gorringe, will now go forward to represent Central England in the national British Small Business Champion Finals, which will be awarded at Claridge's in London on November 15.
Founded in 1991, the company now produces five mail order catalogues a year with a produce range of over 600 natural garden products - the most famous being live worms in their worm composting kits and live ladybirds, used as a biological control for aphids.
Wiggly Wigglers has already gained recognition for its work by winning a Royal Horticultural Society Silver Gilt Medal, a Best Show Garden award and a National Farmer's Union award.
Ms Gorringe said she was was thrilled to receive the accolade, which was presented by rugby legend Jonathan Davies.
"This is a great boost for our fantastic team and will help to reinforce our message of positive natural gardening nationwide," Ms Gorringe said.
The competition is a collaboration between the Federation of Small Business, Lloyds TSB and The Mirror who have joined forces to search for successful small businesses across the UK.
The winner of the 2005 national finals will be presented with a tailor-made trip to New York.
The competition was open to well-run small enterprises that have been operating for at least five years, employ fewer than 50 people and offer excellent customer service. There are six regional winners, chosen from firms based in the North, Midlands, South of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Previous national winners have come from very diverse sectors.
The 2004 Champion, Noel Chadwick from Standish, Wigan, was an example of a firm successfully built from a family tradition handed down through the generations.
They followed in the footsteps of the 2003 winners, the Industrial Building Company from Richmond, North Yorkshire.
Both were able to impress the judges with their vision, determination and the way that they run their individual businesses.
John Emmins, recruitment chairman for the FSB, said: "This is the fourth year that we have run these awards, which have proved to be exceptionally popular with Britain's small business owners."
"This sends out a clear message that SMEs want and value genuine recognition of their achievements and the invaluable contribution they make to their customers, employees and communities across the UK."
Stephen Pegge, head of communications, Lloyds TSB Business, says: "Small firms are vital for the health of the UK economy.
"Not only do they provide employment to millions, but they are often the source of the innovation for which this country is renowned.
"These awards have already gone some way in giving small business the recognition it deserves, as well as raising the profile of entrepreneurship up and down the country."