A BUSINESSWOMAN who formed her business in a bid to make dealing with death less taboo has received a near-£50,000 boost.

Sheila Hogan secured funding after winning an Innovate UK award, part of a £40 million boost to drive new technological advances.

The Biscuit Tin, which was awarded £49,910, has been designed to enable the digital transformation of ‘end-of-life’ planning.

Sheila set up the business following the death of her own parents with a view to meeting a need for individuals to put in place secure plans for managing their end-of-life wishes.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought these needs into focus for tens of thousands of families across the UK, who have now lost loved ones to the virus, and who will now be grappling with many decisions to make in the wake of their untimely deaths, many without any knowledge of what their loved one would have wanted.

Sheila, of Dunbar, said: “My own difficult experience of having to deal with my parents’ affairs whilst going through immense grief made me determined to make the whole process easier for other people.

“My heart absolutely goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one during this pandemic.

“The whole thing has been absolutely heart-breaking.

“I founded Biscuit Tin to make the closing down of a loved one’s life a much easier process than the very manual and protracted process it is today and I feel for each and every person who is having to go through this process right now.

“Winning the award from Innovate UK will enable us to rapidly speed up our development roadmap, making even more features available more quickly, and we’re incredibly grateful to their assistance in helping us deliver the best solution, faster.”

At the start of the pandemic, Biscuit Tin opened up free registration for the service until the end of 2020 for anyone signing up during the pandemic and has already seen a steady rise in registrations over the last 10 weeks.

During the set-up of a Biscuit Tin account, customers can choose ‘nominees’ to be the executors of their digital vault, allowing access to all their data only when it is needed.

The company will be working with Edinburgh-based software development and design agency Bad Dinosaur to deliver the project and the new features will be in place by the autumn.

Sheila added: “Our vision for the project is to encourage and support the change needed to the way we all handle the end-of-life planning.

“The key focus being to remove the barriers and empower, enable and motivate everyone to get organised and put their own affairs and wishes in order.

“By making our own decisions and planning in advance, storing it all digitally in one place, we will make a world of difference to those we love, eliminating all the unnecessary hassle and stress and providing peace of mind at an emotionally distressing time of loss.”

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, offered his congratulations to Sheila.

He said: “Sheila has risen to the challenge we all face in these times, despite the tragedy she’s faced in her personal life.

“She’s used her understanding from coping with her own loss to ensure that others will find comfort.

“This award is due recognition of the value of her work.

“It should rightly be celebrated and hopefully many others can now benefit as a result.”