NEARLY three years ago when Maureen Ryan, then aged 53, was suddenly, shockingly, made redundant she promised herself that from now on she would never work at anything she did not enjoy.

So, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, she began Phoenix Training and Consultancy Services at Heslington Croft, in Fulford.

Now her courses, mostly in personal development and management training, as well as sexual health in people with learning disabilities, are so widely revered and sought-after that she is bidding to become the Small Business of the Year.

Over the last two years Phoenix has worked with the likes of North Yorkshire Forum for Voluntary Organisations, York Health Services, Wilf Ward Trust, United Response, North Yorkshire Victim Support, York/Selby Primary Care Trust, Harrogate Women's Aid and the University of York.

These have encompassed courses in assertiveness, public speaking, presentation skills; lectures in personal relationships and sexuality in people with learning difficulties; disability awareness and dealing with aggression and violence.

She has also teamed up with another training consultant, Anna Harland, on a four-day course on career development for women.