THOUSANDS of people took to the polls in a public vote to pick three small York businesses to win a further cash boost to support their recovery.

The successful trio will each receive a share of £5,000 from the York Restart Fund which was launched by bus operator First York as part of its efforts to support the city's post-Covid bounceback.

The winner of the People’s Choice vote is Just Smile Designs, a stationery and greetings cards shop run by Kerry Elstob on Bootham, which will get £2,500 from the Fund for topping the poll.

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Second place goes to The Little Yorkshire Candle Company on Goodramgate, owned by Alex Hall, who receives £1,500.

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In third place is Caseys Coffee, a mobile coffee shop situated close to the city walls near Station Avenue started by Clare Casey and her husband Matthew who will receive £1,000.

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They were among 15 businesses shortlisted from entries which competed in the People’s Choice stage of the York Restart Fund - all of whom are guaranteed to receive £1,000 each.

Almost 6,000 people from York voted in the competition, which was held last week after the finalists were decided from more than 100 entries to the Fund.

The Fund aimed to help small businesses in retail, leisure, hospitality and other consumer sectors boost their recovery from lockdown and has been supported by the Federation of Small Businesses in North Yorkshire.

Kerry said: “It’s absolutely amazing. I’m so excited about what I will be able to do with the money. I can’t quite believe it.”

Alex said: “This is a brilliant start for us in getting going again. It will help us to expand into personalised products and add to our range. I’m just overjoyed.”

Clare admitted she 'shed a few tears when she discovered her business had reached the public vote. “I can’t thank everyone enough who voted for us. We only set up two years ago, so to have come out as one of the winners is incredible, especially when I look at the other businesses who were involved.”

Marc Bichtemann, managing director of First York, said: “Congratulations to the winners and well done to all the finalists who made it to the vote. This brings to an end an amazing six weeks since we launched the York Restart Fund. The response from businesses and the public has been fantastic and has achieved what we hoped; recognition of the importance of small independent businesses to the recovery of York and a desire from the people of York to see them succeed.”

He added: “All 15 businesses receiving a cash boost from the Fund have great plans to put into action and we’re confident their determination will help the city and bring back local customers and visitors to the streets of York.”

Carolyn Frank, of the FSB who helped judge the entries, said: ”The tremendous response to the recovery fund initiative by the public just shows how much residents in York value their local independent businesses and support them.

“At the FSB we exist to help all small businesses achieve their ambitions, but we cannot do that alone and everyone has a part to play in making sure small businesses are successful. I’m very grateful to First York and all the customers involved for showing their love for small business.”

The total of £20,000 from the York Restart Fund will be sent out to the 15 businesses this week.