Annemarie has designs on world

Award designer Natural Interventions is trying to gain sales around the world after getting its work into the hands of the great and the good of the UK.

Award designer Natural Interventions is trying to gain sales around the world after getting its work into the hands of the great and the good of the UK.

Founder Annemarie Fitzsimons-Keogh has already established her County Durham company as one of the UK's leading suppliers of awards and trophies.

Natural Interventions is the business behind awards which have been presented to high profile figures including Jonny Wilkinson, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dame Shirley Bassey, the band Franz Ferdinand, Jack Charlton and Sir Alan Sugar.

Fitzsimons-Keogh, who specialises in creative metal sculpture, also has a client base which includes blue-chip companies such as Xerox, Frankie and Benny's, Prontaprint and Epson, as well as the BBC. She caters for orders ranging from a one-off sculpture to - on one occasion - 7,000 awards for Mercedes Benz.

But now Natural Interventions, which is based in Eggleston, near Barnard Castle, is broadening its horizons to seek out new customers around the world.

Annemarie, 35, is about to go to the US and India to exploit the potential of new markets and expand the company.

Sales at Natural Interventions have doubled over the past two years, but the company is determined to retain its rural home.

"When you are working in a creative area, it is important that you are happy with your base and, for me, that is in the country," she said. "I still, though, get a real thrill when I go to London for award ceremonies and see the reaction to our awards. One lady told me that she loved her award so much she re-designed her office around it.

"I am looking at supplying wholesalers but with the Natural Interventions branding. There's a whole new market there and I am hoping to create jobs, starting with another designer in the near future."

The agency has benefited from the advice of Business Link's John Atkinson to re-develop its website www.awardsonline.co.uk to provide information about the bespoke design service and sell its unique range and engraving service on line.

Fitzsimons-Keogh said: "Business Link's support has been invaluable. The new website has boosted business considerably and we're now ready to exploit the opportunities it has opened up for us. We were also helped to access consultants who overhauled our financial management systems.

"I am making trips to Miami and India in the next couple of months and have had help towards the cost."

Mr Atkinson said: "Annemarie runs a highly successful business from a rural area and Business Link has been able to offer support across a number of different business areas. We're looking forward to continuing to work with the company as it expands."

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