Catherine Rogan went to London to meet the Queen last week. The last time she was so nervous was five years ago when she applied for a loan from PSYBT - in fact, she threw up before going into the selection panel hearing.
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Six months ago John Murray was sweating it out while a PSYBT panel decided whether he should have a #5000 loan to start a business. Today he is one of a group of PSYBT clients working on an unofficial project of their own in one of Greenock's worst areas, Woodhall. They are formally called the Scottish Bravehearts but they call themselves the Suits and Troops. ''The feeling that most of the inhabitants had was that they had been given up on,'' said Duncan Maclaine, an entrepreneur who as an adviser with Renfrewshire Enterprise's First Business helped many of the Troops through the PSYBT process. ''The Troops went into Woodhall and hung around with people on corners and found out what they wanted, not what they were being told they wanted. The kids there have no trust in official bodies. ''Coming from Belfast I know what that can degenerate into. We created an interface with the Suits and Troops.'' The Suits include a 26-year-old lawyer and a 27-year-old architect. ''You can bring in the people in the suits but they have to be vetted. My job was to make this happen, to bring them into the same room and make sure they did not just stare at each other.'' They are now negotiating with a property developer for a Grade 1 listed building to be converted into units to include music and video editing suites. They will apply for outline planning permission this month. They are also looking at creating a diver training facility in the area. Initial indifference from official bodies is turning to interest but the Troops are determined not to let the project be hijacked. They were frequently ignored by conventional sources of business support until someone intervened to help. Six months ago Murray was an engineer at Playtex and at 26 he knew he would be too old to re-apply if his plan was turned down. His idea for Class Act Logo Embroidery was simple: ''to start by embroidering company logos, mainly on sweaters and polo shirts, and build on that.'' But it still meant working on the idea at Renfrewshire Enterprise's First Business centre in Greenock by day, working at Playtex by night, and dealing with the upheaval of a new-born daughter at home. The #5000 would allow him to buy some stock, lease a machine for a year and travel the craft fairs and gift shows until he could afford to open a shop and expand his range to novelty handkerchiefs and T-shirts. Even so the panel delayed a decision for further consideration before eventually granting the loan subject to putting in place a #6000 overdraft facility for six months. Maclaine, who advised him through the process of drawing up his business plan, had already been round many of the banks in the area, building relationships with local managers. A series of seminars by First Business in April for audiences which included bank managers led to Maclaine being invited to make a presentation to the Royal Bank of Scotland's centre in Paisley last week. Applying on the same day as Murray was Christian Bjonness, only 21, but trading as Adventure Treks and running trips from Greenock and Glasgow to Glenshee offering snowboarding and skiing. ''I have been a qualified ski instructor since I was 17. For the past two winters I have been up in Glenshee full-time but I did not want to move to Glenshee again,'' he said. ''My business is not that complicated but the big investment is the minibus. The panel asked me about cash-flows, how I perceived the business going and my pricing policy.''