THREE men who collectively served 56 years in the armed forces have received a funding boost totalling £100,000 to help them expand their businesses.

The funding was granted by Yorkshire lenders, the Business Enterprise Fund and will also enable the creation of five jobs alongside business expansion.

Bill Plant from Ripon left the army in 2004 and set up the Bill Plant Driving School, which is now the UK’s largest driving school with 530 franchisees and a £6m turnover.

Earlier this year, Bill was granted a loan by BEF which enabled him to purchase top quality BMW 1 Series vehicles for the instructors he employs.

Bill commented: “We have always had ambitious growth plans to take the business up a gear and thanks to the money from BEF, are now able to teach people to drive in high quality vehicles.

“We’re also currently offering a training scheme for would-be instructors and are training 500 people across the country.”

Roy Thomson and Philip Carter spent 36 years between them in the forces before retiring in 2005 and deciding to become partners in a Subway franchise, setting up their first restaurant in Catterick Garrison.

A loan from BEF has enabled them to set up another Subway franchise in the newly-constructed Princes Gate retail park complex at the base.

Roy said: “We were both dedicated to the idea of still being involved at the army base so owning two Subway franchises in this location is a great achievement for us. Santander encouraged us to apply for BEF funding and we’re thrilled that the loan enabled us to invest further.”

BEF investment manager David Winspear said: “Having served with the armed forces, Bill, Roy and Phil are shining examples of people that have used their unique leadership and organisational skills to become successful businessmen."