A SPECIAL play area designed for children under five has won Northwich and Winsford's equivalent to Dragon's Den.

Tots Tower scooped The Salters Den prize of £2,500 and 12 months' of financial and legal mentoring after impressing the judges.

The competition to find the most exciting new business or business idea in the area is run in partnership with Howard Worth Chartered Accountants, Mosshaselhurst Solicitors, NatWest, and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Now in its third year, there were almost double the amount of applications compared to last year.

After a full day of presentations and demonstrations, the judges chose Tots Tower, a business founded by Amanda Lund and her partner Andy Webster after they found a gap in the children’s play area market.

The couple's own daughter was born prematurely and they found taking her to play centres was problematic.

Their daughter experienced physical delay as she was born 14 weeks early. When surrounded by older children she was often at risk of being accidentally pushed over and injured.

They felt that a play area specifically designed with under fives in mind would suit a lot of families’ needs.

Amanda said she was 'completely shocked' to hear they had won.

"The prize money will help us to improve and enhance the play facilities and make the time the children spend on site even better. The business mentoring and support means we can improve our processes and start to plan for future of the business," she said.

The judges felt that the couple’s hard work had already started to pay off and Amanda’s presentation in the den revealed how they have managed to build a regular customer base in a short space of time.

Chris Smith, head of business service at Howard Worth said: “What Amanda demonstrated to us in her presentation was that the enthusiasm and effort that she and Andy have put in to the business has already generated excellent results.

"To see these sorts of figures from a newly formed business is extremely impressive.

"They have a clear plan on how they wish to expand their business and this will benefit their existing and new customers and the local economy in general.

"Tots Tower fully deserves to be awarded the first prize in this year’s competition and we hope that it helps the business continue to thrive.”

There were also prizes for second and third place.

Second place (six months' legal and accountancy mentoring) was awarded to Adam Richardson and with his business Complete Snag. The business offers a snagging survey report service for buyers of new-build homes.

D’s Rice N Peas, a new Caribbean take-away was awarded third place with a prize of three months legal and accountancy mentoring.

Salters Den will return in 2018.