A young entrepreneur who shrugged off severe agoraphobia has won a major business award.
Robin Eveleigh was almost a prisoner in his own home
Bristol-based Robin Eveleigh, 27, led a busy professional and social life when he developed the illness that made him a virtual prisoner in his own home.
In 1998, he had to give up work and spent two years suffering from severe agoraphobia.
However, his successful recovery involved setting up a gardening business - which won him first prize in the Prince's Trust and Royal Bank of Scotland's Business of the Year award.
Mr Eveleigh said: "It wore away my self-confidence and made it impossible for me to go out in public without support, but I did not want to give in and was determined that I would not be ill and out of work for the rest of my life."
With support from his family and with treatment, Mr Eveleigh decided to build on a lifetime's passion for gardening and set up his own business.
In March 2001, Robin approached The Prince's Trust and was awarded a £500 loan and £500 grant.
Robin stood out from over 500 eligible businesses in the South West
The trust also matched him with a business mentor, accountant John Lewis, and ensured he received long-term aftercare.
Two years on, Robin's business, Eveleigh's Gardening Services has grown from tending back gardens to landscaping church grounds and country estates across the Bath and Bristol area.
Turnover for 2003 is projected to increase by 30 % and he is planning further expansion.
He has recently bought a new van, invested in new equipment and is planning to recruit his first employee in the near future.
Hearing he had the business award, Mr Eveleigh said: "This is a result of all my hard work and determination to overcome my
He said he was inspired to defeat his condition and go into business
after his partner Zena Willumsen, 32, became pregnant with their son Bradley,
now aged four.
"I thought, I've got to change my life because I'm going to be a dad," he
A spokesman for the trust said: "Thousands of trust-supported businesses entered the Business Awards.
"Robin stood out from over 500 eligible businesses in the South West and went on to fight it out against the five shortlisted businesses and a further 11 UK finalists representing each English region, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales."