Leo overcomes disability to grow thriving business

Merseyside entrepreneur Leo Winstanley lost the ability to use his dominant hand and arm in a car accident – but that hasn’t stopped him growing a successful woodworking business. Tony McDonough reports

Leo Winstanley
Leo Winstanley, founder of Hand-i-Craft in Formby


Leo Winstanley has built up his successful woodworking shop despite losing the ability to use his dominant hand and arm in a car accident.

Due to the crash, Leo suffered severe nerve damage. During his recovery he used woodworking as a form of physical and mental therapy. This led to the creation of Formby-based woodworking shop Hand-i-Craft.

It offers handmade items, finishes and accessories that are sold online. Leo’s YouTube channel has attracted more than 11,000 subscribers and he has become a prominent figure in the online woodworking community.

Now he has been unveiled as a North West ambassador for the Government’s Start-Up Loan programme. Since 2012 programme, part of the British Business Bank, has delivered £122.5m of funding to more than 13,000 North West ventures.

“Starting a business is no easy feat, and the support of the Start Up Loans programme, alongside a good dose of dedication, was pivotal in the early days of my business,” said Leo.

“I’m excited to represent the North West as a 2023 Start Up Loans Ambassador and look forward to inspiring others to embrace entrepreneurship and create their unique success stories, just as I have created my own.”

Leo and the other 2023 ambassadors will be introduced at a launch event in central London that kick-starts a year-long programme.


Leo Winstanley
Leo Winstanley at work in his Hand-i-Craft wood shop in Formby


This will see them take part in a series of local and national activities, helping inspire and encourage aspiring start-up founders to take the leap into business ownership.

Dr Sophie Dale-Black, UK network director for the North of England, British Business Bank said: “Leo’s story demonstrates the immense possibilities that the Start Up Loans programme offers.

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“It’s exciting to be involved in an inspiring story of overcoming adversity. We’re looking forward to seeing his business grow as he shows that a disability is not a barrier to starting a business.

“Leo should be a role model for many businesses in the North West, and beyond, and offers a great example of how Start Up Loans can help transform lives.”

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