South West Wales

Pembrokeshire Lottery celebrates 20 years creating jobs

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Media captionOne engineering company has been helped to grow from two workers to 180 employees

A lottery set up to help create jobs in Pembrokeshire is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Organisers say 1,600 new jobs have been created by the scheme which has provided interest-free loans to 330 local businesses.

The scheme is funded by more than 5,000 people who buy a £1 ticket each week in the hope of winning a £2,500 prize.

One local businessman said he was able to grow his business from just two workers to 180 with its support.

Offering a maximum prize of £2,000, proceeds from ticket sales are lent interest-free to local companies.

"The lottery was vitally important in the early days to get us on our feet," said Bob Thomson, managing director of Rhyal Engineering in Milford Haven.

"Anyone starting any business has to have funding in place so if the lottery had not been there it might have been that our business would not have begun.

"The lottery is highly respected within the Pembrokeshire business community, and small businesses power the economy at the moment."

'Continually helping'

The lottery was the idea of Danny Fellows who ran the Transport and General Workers Union office in Milford Haven in 1993, at a time when jobs were being lost in the oil refineries and in wider manufacturing.

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Media captionBBC Wales economics correspondent Sarah Dickins reports

He had worked alongside the bosses of the internationally-owned refineries as well as small firms and public organisations.

Bob Clarke, chief executive of Chevron Gulf Oil at the time, said Mr Fellows put forward the idea very clearly.

"He was very simply saying we need to create jobs and to create jobs we need cash and we raise that cash through the lottery. We'll then loan the money, interest-free, to Pembrokeshire businesses to create jobs."

Abigail Owens, the current manager of the lottery, said the best thing was that the money was a loan, not a grant.

"Because it is a loan the money is paid back then it goes back out again as another loan, continually helping the economy," she said.

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