FIRMS from Upton and Malvern are through to the regional final of a business start-up competition.

Caroline and Darren Mears, of Mears Communications Ltd, Upton, won first prize of £500 in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire final of the Shell LiveWIRE Young Business Start-Up Awards.

They will compete in the final for the South West Region in Bristol next month. The standard of entries was considered so high runner-up Susan Nixon, a glass designer from Malvern, will also take part.

"We're delighted to have got to this stage and very excited," said Mrs Mears, who started the business with her husband 18 months ago.

"This is a real endorsement of everything we are doing in the business.

"To begin with it was me and a fax machine and a baby in the office. Now we also have Clare Dingle working with us and we're about to move to new offices."

The public relations marketing agency now has 14 local, regional and national clients.

Susan Nixon undertakes corporate commissions for glassware and is interested in creating sculptural pieces.

She has designed glassware for the Eurovision Song Contest and a special award presented to British rower and Olympic gold medallist Steve Redgrave.