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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 October, 2003, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Witch wins government grant
Harry Potter character
Did this boy make the difference?
A Norwegian woman setting up shop as a witch has been awarded a government grant worth 53,000 kroner ($7,500; 4,500).

Lena Skarning, aged 33, was given the money because her business plan - according to officials from the regional development fund which gave the grant - was "pretty reasonable and well thought out".

Her business, Forest Witch Magic Consulting, will tell fortunes, teach magic tricks at corporate seminars, and offer potions and creams to cure for problems ranging from sleeplessness to bad habits.

A condition of the grant is that she has promised not to try any spells that might hurt anyone.

I'm Norway's only state-backed witch
Lena Skarning
Ms Skarning acknowledged that the success of the Harry Potter books might well have helped her gain official acceptance, but said there was one essential difference.

"I'm the real thing," she said. "I'm Norway's only state-backed witch."

Habitually dressed in black and with a white cat, Ms Skarning said she had been a "nice witch" for 13 years.

But she said she had only recently come up with the idea of applying for the grant after she attended a seminar on entrepreneurship.

"I'm an ordinary witch who came up with an original business idea," she said.

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03 Jul 03  |  South Asia
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