STUDENTS got their first experience of running their own business when they set up stalls at Blunsdon Market.

Cupcakes, stationery and henna were just some of the items that business students from Swindon College were selling at the event yesterday.

They had been given £10 to start their businesses and the money raised is being donated to Prospect Hospice.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “This is my big project. I was a business student myself and went on to run my own business.

“Whenever I go to talk to business students I say ‘why don’t you set up your own business?’ and they say they don’t know how.

“This is a real first taste of the business world for them. They were given £10 each and every penny they make goes to Prospect Hospice.”

Kay Dawes, 17, and Jessica Wirth, 22, were running a stall called Old Fashioned Hospitality, which included cupcakes, fudge and cookies.

Jessica said: “I want to start my own speciality tea and cake business. We work well together so it will be nice for us to carry it on.

“If we can run a market stall during the summer holidays it will give us the perfect opportunity to sell a bit more.

“This experience has helped our time management skills and helped us to understand the organisation needed to run a business.”

Students studying BTECs, National Diplomas and Extended National Diplomas in business took part in the challenge.

Prospect Hospice head of fundraising, Sheryl Crouch, said: “This is one of a number of ways that we have looked to engage schools and colleges with our work.

“We felt that it was an initiative that would benefit the hospice, but also benefit the students too, and our community fundraiser, Amy Francombe, is already in discussions with other schools and colleges to roll it out further.”

Mentors and sponsors included Asda, Barclays, Smiths News, Nuble Furniture, GWE and the Swindon Advertiser, and Barclays will be doubling the funds raised by the students.

Mr Tomlinson added: “There are some fantastic ideas and some of the businesses are making good money.

“We are really hoping one or two of these teams will consider coming back in the summer holidays and continuing their business.

“Some of them will go on to set up their own businesses in Swindon creating new employment opportunities.”