Cash helps businesses get happy after pandemic

Staffordshire’s first boutique indoor self-service dog wash has expanded thanks to a £5,000 boost

Victoria Shepherd set up Happy Henry’s! at Amerton Farm near Stafford to follow her dream of running a dog spa business.

And she has used an interest-free loan from the Staffordshire’s County Council Start-Up scheme to expand into dog grooming.

The loan is part of the Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme, set up by the county council to get more money and support to businesses quicker during and after the pandemic. The county council has so far loaned £124,000 in interest-free loans to businesses in Staffordshire needing a start boost.

Victoria said: “My own dog was very nervous but having had dogs for years I know how to help people to manage them. When I saw a gap in the market in Stafford for a DIY dog grooming service that not only makes bathing nervous dogs easier, but also helps teach their owners how to manage their behaviours, I jumped at it.

“Although I have years of experience as a dog owner, when my dog Henry came into my life I realised he had struggles that I didn’t know how to manage. I then found games-based training and started to learn more about dog behaviour and great ways to help dogs.

“This knowledge is helping other owners. I’m now getting calls from people who tell me they’ve been referred by a friend. Bringing this knowledge into my business at such a great location is fantastic.

“The interest-free loan from the county council gave me just that bit of breathing space to finish my grooming training so that I can now offer a fully comprehensive service for all dogs.”


Other businesses to benefit from the scheme include Penkridge-based Safety Forward Ltd. The construction health and safety consultant saw 30% of its business disappear overnight when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and the country was first locked down in 2020.

Since then the company has doubled its pre-pandemic turnover thanks to its ethical commitment to other businesses during Covid and a grant from Staffordshire County Council and South Staffordshire Council.

Elsewhere, Sean Pearce, owner of the The Print Box in Four Ashes, received £5,000 in just over two weeks following an application for a Thrive Grant from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme.

Now The Print Box has diversified into vehicle graphics and signs and has even taken on new staff into the family business.


Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “Our start-up loans can make a real difference to young businesses and has been a critical part of Victoria’s growth. With flexible repayment terms as well as the zero per cent interest, these loans have already a big difference to small businesses across Staffordshire, which are the lifeblood of our economy.

“With the support available right across Staffordshire, it’s no wonder that our county has seen more businesses start up over the last years than before, and they grow quicker than most others across the UK.”

Interest-free loans of between £3,000 to £5,000 from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme are available to businesses that are less than two years old.


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