Army veterans receive funding boost to expand businesses

Ripon-based driving school entrepreneur Bill Plant with BEF investment manager David Winspear and Catterick Garrison Subway franchisees Roy Thomson and Philip Carter.
Ripon-based driving school entrepreneur Bill Plant with BEF investment manager David Winspear and Catterick Garrison Subway franchisees Roy Thomson and Philip Carter.

Three businessmen who collectively served 56 years in the armed forces have received a funding boost totalling £100,000 to help them expand their businesses.

The funding was granted by Yorkshire lender the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) and will enable the creation of five jobs alongside business expansion.

Bill Plant, from Ripon, left the army in 2004 and decided to apply his leadership and communication skills to teaching others how to drive. His business, Bill Plant Driving School, is now the UK’s largest driving school with 530 franchisees and turnover of £6m. Earlier this year, Mr Plant was granted a loan by BEF which enabled him to buy BMW 1 Series vehicles for the instructors he employs.

He said: “We have always had ambitious growth plans to take the business up a gear and thanks to the money from BEF, are now able to teach people to drive in high quality vehicles. We’re also currently offering a training scheme for would-be instructors and are training 500 people across the country.”

Roy Thomson and Philip Carter spent 36 years between them in the armed forces before retiring in 2005 and deciding to become partners in a Subway franchise, setting up heir first restaurant in Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire.

A loan from BEF has enabled them to set up another Subway franchise in the newly-constructed Princes Gate retail park complex at the army base.

Mr Thomson said: “Since retiring, we were both dedicated to the idea of still being involved at the army base so owning two Subway franchises in this location is a great achievement for us. Santander encouraged us to apply for BEF funding and we’re thrilled that the loan enabled us to invest further.”

BEF investment manager, David Winspear, said: “Having served with the armed forces, Bill, Roy and Phil are shining examples of people that have used their unique leadership and organisational skills to become successful businessmen.

“While all are successful in their own right, we were delighted to see them using funding from BEF to expand their thriving businesses even further creating jobs and training opportunities for their local areas.”

For further advice about funding for businesses visit www.befund.org