AN online gift shop, run by a Rossendale man who was dumped by his girlfriend after giving her a worm farm for her birthday, has won praise from Theo Paphitis.

Ben Blomerley, 35, who now lives in London, was given the idea for his business, after being jilted by his girlfriend of four years in 2011, with whom he lived in Crawshawbooth.

Mr Blomerley said: “We had a little garden and we talked about what to do with it, and got onto the subject of worm farms.

“I got her one for her birthday, and I maintain that she liked it, but she didn’t set it up properly.

“It rained heavily one night, and the next day all the worms had drowned. It was horrible. Like worm-ageddon.

“We split up a few months later.

“I wanted to make things better for people who really struggle to buy gifts for women.

“I think the problem is, guys like to solve problems, so we might think, ‘my girlfriend needs some new windscreen wipers or a battery charger, I’ll get her them for her birthday’.

“Which you might think would be a good gift, but they just aren’t. They aren’t a treat.”

After growing the business to achieve a £70,000 turnover in 2013, Mr Blomerley tweeted Theo, best known as a former investor on BBC television series Dragon’s Den, to say that had the UK’s most unique marketplace for Valentine’s gifts.

In return, the entrepreneur picked the online firm as one of his Small Business Sunday winners and retweeted the message to more than 410,000 followers.

His tweet said: “Feeling the lovebug this month? The most unique marketplace has your perfect Valentine’s gift! Ben and Alex_@askherfriends.”

Mr Blomerley said: “Being selected is great, especially just before Valentine’s Day. We’ve also just put £200,000 into the business to try and grow it, so it’s fantastic.”’s current bestselling gifts are an art print with ‘I Love You’, hand-painted tea light holders, a ‘little birds’ pendant necklace, and a silver ‘paper plane’ necklace.