DRAGONS’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne has thrown his financial clout behind Huddersfield businessman Stephen Collins.
The multimillionaire entrepreneur, one of the UK’s richest people, agreed to sponsor Mr Collins’s company Lazarus Mobility for the next year in a deal worth about £15,000.
He will also help Mr Collins with the PR and marketing for his business, which supplies equipment for people with disabilities.
Unlike the contestants on BBC One show Dragons’ Den, Bannatyne, 59, will not demand anything in return.
The pair struck a deal during a meeting at the Bannatyne Group headquarters in County Durham last week.
Mr Collins said: “I nearly got caught speeding on the way back from the meeting because I felt so good I just wanted to put my foot down.
“It’s a massive boost – it means I can take the company to the next level.
“I’ve always admired him and for someone like him to believe in me is fantastic. I will be able to learn from the master.”
Mr Collins, 47, of Rutland Road, Longwood, was born with cerebral palsy.
He worked for 16 years as an IT manager in the NHS before starting Lazarus Mobility in 2006.
The company, based at Sheepridge Road, Marsden, supplies equipment including scooters, wheel chairs, walking frames and stair lifts direct to homes.
Mr Collins first met Bannatyne at the final of the Shaw Trust Star Awards, which recognise the achievements of disabled people, at the end of last year.
The Scottish entrepreneur, who made his money in the nursing home business before expanding into health clubs, bars, casinos and property, is on the panel on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den. The programme gives would-be business people the chance to pitch their ideas to some of the country’s top entrepreneurs.
He gave Mr Collins his email address and told him to contact him.
Under their new business agreement the pair will be in regular contact.
Mr Collins said: “He’s a very nice guy – so normal it’s unbelievable. You wouldn’t think he was a multi-millionaire.
“He was a little late for our meeting and when he came in he apologised. I told him ‘Don’t do it again’ and we had a laugh.
“He has worked his way up from having nothing, so he knows what it’s like.
“In some ways I have less than nothing because of my disability, so he is a real inspiration.”
For more information about Mr Collins’s business visit www.lazarusmobility.com