Meet Grant Ridley, graduate of the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and Entrepreneur of the Year

Reading about the exploits of 18-year-old Grant Ridley, a graduate from the Enterprise Academy in Manchester College, it's easy to develop an inferiority complex. While most young boys his age are spending their free time chasing tail, whiling away hours in the pub or playing videogames, he has set up guerilla marketing agency, Grant Ridley Marketing, a venture pipped to outsmart many of the existing major industry players.

"Grant impressed me with his passion and his strong business acumen," said Peter Jones at the awards ceremony on Friday. "He is a shining example of a young, ambitious entrepreneur with the skills and motivation to realise his full potential and live out his entrepreneurial dreams."

Ridley is in good company this year. The 2011 graduates from the Enterprise Academy have achieved the highest grades of any previous year group - with 49% achieving the top grade-set of distinction or above.

All members of the academy were invited to submit to become National Entrepreneur of the Year. Their applications took the form of a written letter. Six candidates were then shortlisted and went to meet the judging panel.

This heavyweight group of entrepreneurs and enterprise experts consisted of Dragons' Den investor Peter Jones, Peter Jones Enterprise Academy CEO Clive Capp, Seven Hills co-founder Michael Hayman, and Helen Emberton, head of curriculum for the South East at National Enterprise Academy. The students pitched their hearts out for the top prize.

Grant stood out for the judges because of his complete dedication to his business and development. He moved from his home town of Newcastle to Manchester to study at the Academy and consistently impressed his tutors with his innovative ideas and positive attitude.

Peter Jones said: "The Peter Jones Enterprise Academies encourages a 'go-getting' attitude and a winning mentality, and collectively our graduates represent an exciting new generation of entrepreneurs that our country desperately needs to get itself back on its feet.

"Whether our graduates decide to set up their own business or work within an existing business, through the Enterprise Academy they have gained the confidence, self-belief and business know-how to be successful in life."

Ridley achieved the highest academic grade at the Academy, and earlier this month was awarded the prestigious award of 'Outstanding BTEC Student of the Year' at the National BTEC Awards in July.

For his outstanding achievements, Grant was presented with an iPad 2, courtesy of Everything Everywhere, and a hair-raising experience to fly with civilian aerobatic display team kindly donated by the Breitling Jet Team.

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