TWO Salisbury businesses are looking to the future by sponsoring young talent.

Accountancy and financial services group Smith & Williamson is backing slalom canoeist Joe Coombs from Alderbury in his bid to become an Olympic champion.

And independent financial adviser Ian Hudson of Hudson Green & Associates has teamed up with Salisbury Young Chamber to sponsor the Apprentice/Trainee award at next month’s Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Excellence Awards.

The awards will be presented at a dinner at Salisbury Arts Centre on February 11.

Mr Hudson, a former president of the chamber and governor of Wiltshire College, who was instrumental in the founding of Salisbury Young Chamber, said he had worked hard to foster a training culture within his own business and recognised that success relies on having people within an organisation who are always keen to learn new skills.

“Our industry is rapidly and progressively changing and with that comes the need to adapt, improve and maintain our skill-sets, while developing new ones,” he said.

“We only have to see the way technology has altered how we communicate to appreciate that without learning to keep pace, it is easy to understand how a business can become left behind.

“This is why we believe it is important to champion this award in the centenary year of the chamber.”

Smith & Williamson’s Andrew Hunt said the firm is delighted to sponsor Mr Coombs, a student at Nottingham University. “Joe is a wonderfully inspiring 19-year-old and we are keen to see him do well, hence our support of him with financial help,” he said.

“As a local athlete, and previous Wiltshire Young Achiever of the year, his list of achievements goes on and on.”

Last October, Mr Coombs boosted his UK ranking to fifth after winning the semi-final and coming fourth in the final of the British Open.

He trains at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, is ranked 13th in the UK senior men and 199th in the world.

In 2009, he made the GB junior team and won a silver medal at the Junior European Championships in Slovakia, and in 2010 he was also selected for the GB under-23 squad.