AN ESSEX entrepreneur has been named by Sir Richard Branson as East of England regional ambassador for the Virgin Media Pioneers programme, which aims to inspire young people to start their own businesses.

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Terry Heffernan, who is 59 and is based in Colchester, is the oldest out of 12 entrepreneurs appointed as regional ambassadors across the UK, with each receiving a support package to deliver an event as well as providing on-going support for entrepreneurial acitvity.

Virgin Media Pioneers was first launched by Virgin Media in 2010 as an online community for young entrepreneurs. More than 2,000 members now interact, using videos and blogging to create a peer-to-peer support and mentoring service.

Mr Heffernan, who is commercial director for search engine marketing and creative web development agency High Position, said: “Virgin Media Pioneers has made a real difference.

“Young people are full of great ideas but don’t always have the know-how or the contacts to make them happen. The Pioneers community can help change that.

“They can meet like-minded people, gain experience and skills and open doors to achieve their dream of running their own business – which is a great way for us to invest in our local area and create jobs,” he added.

Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group and a “pioneer at large” for the Virgin Media programme, said: “There is a huge amount we can do to unlock entrepreneurial potential and Virgin Media Pioneers is enabling young entrepreneurs to fulfil their dreams of owning and managing successful businesses.

“Starting up your own business is a big challenge and many of the obstacles are daunting and, at times, can seem insurmountable. But with the right support and expert advice young entrepreneurs can find their way and Virgin Media Pioneers will be with them every step of the way.”

Details of the ambassadors’ regional events will be released on the Virgin Media Pioneers website: .