Winners in NatWest Everywoman Awards announcedThe UK’s leaders in business come together to recognise and celebrate the UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs
2 December 2009: The UK’s most inspirational female entrepreneurs are today being championed, as the winners in the 2009 NatWest everywoman awards are announced. In a year that has undeniably been one of the most challenging for the country’s business owners, these awards recognise those women that have demonstrated exceptional determination and drive in order to achieve success with their ventures. Through celebrating and raising the profile of these winners, the initiative aims to encourage future generations of women to start their own business and achieve their career aspirations.
Jan Ward, founder of Corrotherm International was chosen as the winner of the 2009 NatWest everywoman award. This award is selected from all finalists, and is bestowed on the most passionate and dedicated woman business owner who the judges felt has overcome significant challenges to achieve outstanding business success.
Having left school at 16, Jan worked at a number of companies who exported engineering materials, carving a niche for herself by specialising in dealing with clients based in the Middle East, indulging her combined passion for working internationally and in a sales-focused role. Jan went on to set up Corrotherm International in 1992, specialising in supplying high grade metals, having impressed her bank manager with a thoroughly researched business plan. The company has since expanded significantly, with offices now in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Libya, India and Iran, in addition to a team of 14 in the UK and a turnover of £10m.
The other winners are as follows: The everywoman Artemis Award sponsored by Royal Mail, for women aged between 18 and 25 went to Francesca Cragg with her company, Revitalize Hair & Beauty Salon. Francesca was always destined for success, being one of the youngest people in the country to gain NVQ Levels 1 and 2 in hairdressing aged just 17. She used this expertise to launch her own hair and beauty spa, Revitalize in 2007. Aged 23, she now boasts 12 members of staff, a loyal customer base and the accolade of being the first salon in the UK to be run using renewable and solar energy.
The everywoman Demeter Award sponsored by IBM for the most inspirational woman aged 26 to 35 was won by Karen McQuade, with her company, The UK Foodhall. While working as a Sales Manager at a fresh meat trade company, Karen decided to improve school meals by developing and launching a healthy chicken product for school children. This led to her launching The UK Foodhall in May 2007, raising the start-up funds single-handedly, to produce and deliver healthy, British-sourced food. It is now the biggest supplier in the country, delivering to 10,000 schools and is the first ‘food service’ company in the UK to be awarded the covetable Red Tractor independent mark of quality.
Diahanne Rhiney was chosen as the winner of the everywoman Athena Award sponsored by the Aspire Fund, for women aged between 36 and 50, with her marketing company, 15 Degrees. Diahanne set up her agency in January 2004, growing to specialise in targeting marginalised groups, primarily those in multi-ethnic communities. Projects include collaborating with the National Blood Service to reach the black and Asian community and working with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. Diahanne also chairs the Harmony Foundation CIC (Community Interest Company), an organisation that campaigns to help young people who are at risk of failing in the educational system.
The everywoman Hera Award, sponsored by Exemplas for women aged 50 and above was won by Lyn Cecil, with her company Secretaries Plus. Lyn was always set on the idea of recruitment as a career, and in her 20s spotted a gap in the market to provide top-end PAs, so launched Secretaries Plus, growing it to incorporate a small, dedicated team of leading recruiters. In 2002, Lyn was forced into receivership due to her Financial Director embezzling over half a million pounds, but she found the strength to build the company up again from scratch, and the company’s superior offering has seen them meet ambitious targets against the odds.
The everywoman Iris Award sponsored by BT Business, for the woman whose business growth and success has been greatly improved through successful implementation and use of IT and communications was awarded to Ling Valentine of LINGsCARS.com. A Chinese immigrant, Ling founded her business in 2001 and today boasts over 100,000 unique monthly users to her website and an average of £3.5 million worth of cars and vans leased monthly thanks to innovative online marketing.
The everywoman Ambassador Award sponsored by Coutts for an entrepreneurial role model went to Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company whilst the Spirit of everywoman Award was presented to BBC Woman’s Hour presenter, Jenni Murray, OBE.
Co-founder and Director of everywoman, Karen Gill, MBE comments, “2009 has been an incredibly tough year for UK plc. This year, more than ever, we are overwhelmed by the achievements of our award winners. They have all exhibited gritty determination to succeed regardless of the obstacles thrown at them, whilst all the while demonstrating ethical working practices.”
Richard Taylor, Brand Director, NatWest comments, “The everywoman award winners characterise the spirit of entrepreneurship: that determination to strive for success and overcoming the odds to win through and build new businesses. The 2009 winners demonstrate outstanding achievements which will inspire more women to start up and grow their own businesses. At NatWest we are committed to developing female entrepreneurship and have attracted over 36,000 female businesses in the last 12 months.”
2009 sees the tenth anniversary of everywoman, the UK’s largest and fastest growing independent network for women in business, and the ninth annual NatWest everywoman Awards. To mark this milestone year, everywoman has launched a five point manifesto identifying areas for radical change for the landscape for women in business over the next decade. Whilst acknowledging that much progress has been made, there is still a long way to go before women are on an equal footing with their male counterparts in the business sphere. By 2019, everywoman calls for an increase in the number of women run businesses by 100,000, using initiatives such as the NatWest everywoman Awards to identify those who are already exhibiting success, in order to give others the confidence to themselves go it alone.