BEWDLEY entrepreneur, David Howorth, has won a business competition after testing the water with his sculpted pond covers.

The 34-year-old had the idea for the safety products when he became a father and it has now earned him £5,000 worth of consultancy as winner of the Bewdley4Business competition organised by Opportunity Bewdley.

Creative Pond Covers, run from Mr Howorth's Lyttleton Road home, was successful in the business start-up category of the competition, launched just before Christmas.

His inspiration came from finding a way of making his own garden pond safe for his young son.

"Pond covers on the market were not imaginative and did not complement the landscaping in my garden," said Mr Howorth. "I decided that it was time to offer a creative and safe alternative for people who wished to own a cover that would become a key feature in their garden."

The covers are made from a range of materials, including steel.

Gail Fenton, programme manager with Opportunity Bewdley, part of the Market Towns Initiative to prompt and support regeneration projects for the town, said: "David Howorth was able to demonstrate how a viable business idea can be matched to a creative product and has already completed one bespoke commission."

She expressed disappointment, however, at the response to the Bewdley4Business competition.

"We were slightly disappointed with the overall take-up of this competition, with only a dozen strong applications made," she said, "The competition was advertised in the local newspapers and residents' magazines, through local community links and through Wyre Forest Business Club."

Mr Howorth's prize takes the form of business advice provided by Tony McDowell, of Corporate Solutions.

"When I was first starting in business in the early eighties, it would have saved me a lot of time and heartache, not to mention money, if I could have turned to someone for sound, practical advice," said Mr McDowell, of Dry Mill Lane, Bewdley.

"Co-sponsoring Bewdley4Business with Opportunity Bewdley allows me to put something back and I am thrilled to be working with David to develop his business idea."

Mr Howorth said: "I'm really pleased to have won the Bewdley4Business competition and feel that it's already making a huge difference to the development of my business."