An entrepreneur has hailed the help of an initiative which helped his business get off the ground.

James Wood is one of only 15 professional wild food foragers.

In a bid to grow his business, the Bollington resident sought the help of Enterprising Macclesfield, a venture launched last November which aims to be a one-stop-shop for free advice and support to anyone wanting to set up their own social or commercial enterprise.

With that support James has seen rapid growth in his business.

James said: “I had a fantastic experience through Enterprising Macclesfield and really valued the support they provided. The analytical approach enabled me to focus on where the real opportunities lay and avoid costly, time consuming efforts being wasted elsewhere.”

James approached Enterprising Macclesfield with an idea of how he could create a business to buy his own woodland and create a ‘forest school’ for local schoolchildren.

He was put in touch with coach Mike Rance of The Silk Partnership who helped James hone this down and develop an alternative business model based on his foraging skills.

He then focused on recipes and cooking demonstrations using foraged food and began approaching high-end restaurants about using wild foods in the form of preserves, chutneys, cordials and syrups.

In a matter of a month James’s business, Totally Wild, has gone from strength to strength. He has led foraging classes and featured on the BBC, ITV and at the RHS Tatton Show. He has also written a book on food foraging, incorporating recipes, which was launched in October.

James has been linked up with social enterprise Food4Macc and is in discussion with a food manufacturing business with a view to producing wild food products and selling these through specialist outlets and to high-end restaurants.

James is one of a number of success stories being celebrated as Enterprising Macclesfield celebrates its first anniversary.

It is run by a Make it Macclesfield, a Community Interest Company which runs projects to raise the profile of the town. It aims to simplify the often confusing world of business by offering would-be entrepreneurs free coaching from leading business professionals. Entrepreneurs will be signposted to existing pots of funding to help get their venture off the ground.

James couldn’t recommend it enough, adding: “I would strongly recommend start-ups to tap into the experience and expertise available through the Enterprising Macclesfield team.”

For more information visit enterprising