FOUR talented young traders have secured their spots at the regional finals of the Young Trader of the Year Awards.

Sixteen young traders competed in the Barnsley heats at Barnsley Market earlier this month for a chance to represent their town at the regional finals of the Young Trader of the Year awards. The awards, organised by the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), aim to celebrate and support the next generation of market traders in the UK.

First place and champion of the Barnsley heats was awarded to Imogen Johnson, owner of Petal and Forge. Petal and Forge specialise in handcrafted vegan scents and skincare, all made with natural ingredients and eco-conscious products and packaging.

On receiving her trophy, Imogen said: “I feel so proud and honoured to be awarded this title! Running a small business can be a rollercoaster and knowing all the hard work has paid off makes it worthwhile. Barnsley Market has been such a big part of our growth, so to be recognised there among other such talented young traders is a huge compliment and means so much to me. I look forward to what the future holds, it would be a dream to eventually have my own shop where I can share more of my creations and work on my business full time.”

In second place was Sasha Watson from Tasty Treats by Sash, makers of homemade treats for humans and dogs. Third place was awarded to Christopher Byard of Chris Byard Ceramics, with his collection of handmade pottery and ceramics and in fourth place was Maddison Sellors from Sci-Forge, creators of 3D printed toys and statues. Both traders were recognised as highly commended.

The judges, which included representatives from the NMTF committee, Barnsley Council, and local businesses, were impressed by the variety and quality of the products on offer, as well as the professionalism and enthusiasm of the young traders.

Coun Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture at Barnsley Council, said: "We are very proud of our young traders, who have shown their skills and passion for their products at the Barnsley heats. Barnsley Market is a vital part of our town centre regeneration, and we are keen to support and encourage new traders to join our vibrant market community. We hope that the regional finals will be a fantastic opportunity for our young traders to showcase their businesses and network with other traders from across the region."

The four winners will go through to the regional finals, which will take place in Skipton in August. There, they will compete against other young traders from across Yorkshire and the Humber, for a chance to qualify for the national final in Stratford-upon-Avon over the August bank holiday weekend.