A FORMER Dragons’ Den star has given a Bacup-based company a social media boost with his ‘Sunday business tweets’.

Retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis selected deaf and disability awareness training business HearFirst, as his ‘Small Business Sunday’ winner.


The businessman runs a weekly initiative to encourage small businesses to tweet him, and his chosen company then receives a social media boost by being retweeted to his 489,000 followers.

The company also gets profiled on Mr Paphitis’ new website, which is exclusive to the Small Business Sunday Winners.

HearFirst was established in 2002 and provides a full range of awareness training courses to organisations including the Royal Mail, the House of Commons and a range of schools and colleges.

After being selected, the business has received more than 100 new followers and has a number of new enquiries about their training services.

Julie Ryder, 45, director and founder of HearFirst, who lost her hearing when she was in her late 20s, said the help from Mr Paphitis has benefited the business greatly.

She said: “I founded HearFirst from scratch and to have our business hand-picked by someone as well respected as Theo Paphitis is fantastic.

“For Theo to recognise and endorse the work myself and my team have put into the business over the past 13 years and to make it as successful as it is today is wonderful.”

Mrs Ryder’s husband, David, 45, who co-own’s the business said: “We were truly delighted to be chosen by Theo as the small business winner.

“It gave us a big boost in followers and now we’ve had more enquiries because of that.

“This idea gives businesses like us a great chance to do better and, now we have a bigger profile, we can reach out to more people and provide a better quality of service.

“We want to help give confidence to staff when they come in contact with people with disabilities so the customer gets a better quality of service.”

Organisations looking to become a Small Business Sunday winner should use Twitter to tweet Theo Paphitis about their business on Sunday between 5pm and 7.30pm and include the hashtag #sbs.