A GREEN-FINGERED student started his own business helping neighbours with garden work after his exams got cancelled - and has already earned £7,000.

Alfie Jones has helped 85 customers since becoming The Backyard Barber just over nine weeks ago and hopes to keep his new venture going into October.

The entrepreneurial Year 11 student added a bike trailer to a lawnmower and advertised his new start-up around town after Royal Wootton Bassett Academy cancelled their GCSEs and he was left with a lot of time on his hands but nothing to do.

He said: "I was really bored and couldn't see friends but I love being outside so I wanted a reason to get out and I wanted to help people.

"After a week of cycling around handing out flyers and advertising on social media, I had 10 customers and I've been amazed by how quickly it's taken off.

"I used to work at a pub making £200 a month and now I make £2,000 a month, which is great. I want to continue doing this for the rest of the holidays and beyond, though I'll have to cut down to weekends-only when I go back to school."

School friends Rowan Heaphy and Michael Redmond joined the 16-year-old as his first employees to help him keep up with the surge of demand he saw for his services.

They have mowed lawns, painted fences, trimmed hedges, weeded gardens and pressure washed patios around Bassett and as far afield as Minety and Lyneham.

His parents have helped by driving around extra equipment for his work and taking garden waste to the tip.

Alfie added: "My friends have always known I'm a bit mad and always trying to make money in any way I can so when I asked them to work for me they were happy to have a bit of extra cash coming in.

"I never thought I'd have to take on more people just to keep up with all the work but I think I pay them quite well for a 16-year-old."

At the start of lockdown, Alfie 3D-printed tension release bands for NHS staff and other key workers at the start of lockdown but stopped after printing costs became too expensive and he wanted to do something other than sit in his garage all day.

He found the sudden exam cancellation and sudden uncertainty of lockdown frustrating but is looking forward to studying engineering, maths and computer science at RWBA's sixth form in the autumn.

He added: "This business is a stepping stone to future work and has helped me save up for driving lessons - and I've got a pretty good tan now, which is an unexpected benefit."