A FORMER Daily Echo journalist who covered AFC Bournemouth’s journey from near-extinction to Premier League success has set up his own business.

Neil Meldrum has launched Curious Frog Media, an integrated marketing business with Poole Speedway among its clients.

As well as providing social media and public relations for the Pirates, it is producing online content for the Bournemouth-based Property Franchise Group and its brands across the country.

The Poole-based business also represents entrepreneur and philanthropist Steve Bolton, founder of Platinum Property Partners, for whom Neil has ghost-written a book.

Services include design, content, PR and social media strategy, with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises.

Neil, 37, said: “A lot of the content and design comes from having a background in newspapers. I’m really lucky I’ve had that grounding. It’s very appealing, or so I’ve been told by businesses.

“It’s given me that wide range of skills that enables me to offer clients a lot of different things under one umbrella.”

Neil joined the Echo as a sub-editor in 2002, before serving for six years as sports editor, then becoming assistant editor and deputy editor.

He said the newsroom focus on being fast and accurate had proved valuable to clients.

“It teaches you speed, that’s the main thing – the relentless pace of working in a newsroom, which has become even more so in recent years,” he said.

“Newspapers are very accurate products, by and large, so people get that get that pernickety striving for everything to be as perfect as it can be that newspapers drum into us over the years.”

Neil, who is ambitious for the business to grow, said Steve Bolton had been an inspiration for the venture.

“Steve Bolton is somebody I really respect in business and he’s really encouraged me to set up my own company. Before I met him, it wasn’t something I would have ever considered,” he said.

Neil is also working on a book, AFC Bournemouth: The Fall and Rise, which tells the story of the Cherries’ journey from administration to promotion to the Premier League.

“I got to know all the key players down the years, like Kevin Bond and Eddie Howe, Gerald Krasner the administrator and the various chairmen and chief executives that have come and gone,” said Neil.

He vividly recalls Steve Fletcher’s 100th career goal, which saved the club from dropping out of the league.

“I’ve covered hundreds of games at Dean Court. That day the gate was probably 7,000-8,000 and I’ve never heard a roar in that stadium as loud as when that goal went in,” he said.

“You couldn’t have written it any better – the returning hero, stalwart of AFC Bournemouth down the years and it’s him that scored the goal that won the game.”