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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 130

Date:- 20 December 2003

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PRESCOT GIRL TAKES TOP BUSINESS AWARD

IN 1994, a Prescot comedienne decided to leave her stand up routine behind to embark on a brave new business venture. Last Friday, the 38 year old mother of one, Deirdre Bounds, collected the award for ‘Small Business of the Year’ from the Variety Club in Yorkshire. Her company, i-to-i UK Ltd, is now one of the UK’s leading volunteer travel and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language Courses) training organisations.

From humble beginnings in a bedsit, Deirdre and i-to-i have come a long way. The organisation now has an annual turnover of £3.5 million, offices in the UK, the US and Ireland and over 120 employees worldwide. And with 2,500 volunteers travelling with i-to-i every year to work on education, environmental and community based projects and a further 2,000 people learning to Teach English as a Foreign Language on their TEFL courses, the organisation’s impact goes far beyond its economic success.

"My inspiration for setting up i-to-i,” said Deirdre, “came from a career break I took in 1990 (before my days in stand up), to teach English in Asia. The experience of living and working abroad changed my life completely and back home, I wanted to spread the word.”

Deirdre went on to say:- “I was convinced there were many more people out there, like myself, looking for something different, so I started putting together a short version of the TEFL Course I had taken to get work as a teacher in Asia. It proved an instant success and as my tutees starting asking where they could get work, I began looking into finding placements for them. The rest is history! I never thought I would be where I am today, and winning the business award last week was my proudest moment. It is great that the volunteering sector is now receiving this kind of recognition.”

The award recognises i-to-i’s growing influence on the UK travel industry, increasingly dominated by adventure and cultural travel, for having a “clear understanding of the market in which it operates, and its future development in that marketplace, together with sound and measurable business practices.”

Counterfeit Crackdown in Liverpool

GETTING tough Liverpool City Council is targeting counterfeiting in the run up to Christmas. Over the last few weeks, Trading Standards officers have seized thousands of items of counterfeit merchandise in the city. They include:-

· 4,700 DVD's 
· 4,200 items of clothing 
· 1,900 CD's 
· 1,400 items of computer software 
· 500 teddy bears 

A wide range of other goods have also been confiscated, including mobile phone covers, bags, vodka, batteries and tobacco. Several arrests have been made, with investigations continuing into other cases. 

Executive member for Trading Standards North West, Peter Astley, said:- "Counterfeiting of any description will not be tolerated. Anyone dealing in these goods is likely to be arrested and prosecuted.

The general public need to be aware that counterfeit goods are cheap, shoddy imitations at best, and in the case of goods like vodka and batteries can be downright dangerous."


Councillor Richard Oglethorpe, Liverpool City Council's Executive Member for the Environment, said:- "Counterfeiting costs jobs - it's as simple as that. Honest, local manufacturers and retailers and their employees need protection from these invidious criminals who contribute nothing to the local economy and often fund organised crime."

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