Joy for Katie as she wins contest

SNAP HAPPY: Hadleigh photographer Katie Drouet beams with delight after winning �3,000 of free advertising in our Local Business Accelerator competition.
SNAP HAPPY: Hadleigh photographer Katie Drouet beams with delight after winning �3,000 of free advertising in our Local Business Accelerator competition.
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A HADLEIGH photographer has won £3,000 of free advertising and expert mentoring in our Local Business Accelerator competition.

Katie Drouet, 25, from Gallows Hill, beat off competition from SmartBedz of Woodbridge and Pentlow firm Bowers Beef to win the local title.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron

Miss Drouet, who has run her photography business for a year and has seven years’ experience in the industry, was overjoyed with her prize.

“I am so happy,” she said. “It’s the best news to start the new year – I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Jane Vincent, chief executive of WS Training and chairman of Suffolk enterprise agency Menta, and Andrew Denny, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, headed the judging panel that chose Miss Drouet as the winner.

The nationwide campaign, which was launched in October and backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Deborah Meaden of Dragon’s Den, will see 1,500 firms receive a total of £15million of free advertising to help boost their business in 2012.

Miss Drouet said: “I think it will have a huge impact. I have never been able to afford proper advertising before and have grown my business through word of mouth and the internet, so this will really give it a boost.”

A member of the judging panel will also mentor Miss Drouet as part of her prize.

“It will be great to have someone really professional guiding and helping with decisions about what is best for the business,” said Miss Drouet, whose work includes portraits, family and commercial photography.

“Hopefully I can progress it and push it forward with this input and advice.”

The photographer now plans to celebrate her win in style.

“I think I will get some champagne to celebrate – this certainly helps to beat the January blues,” she added.