INSPIRATIONAL achievers from Coventry and Warwickshire were among those celebrated at the fourth Ladies First Network Business Awards.
More than 300 people assembled at Coombe Abbey on Thursday (March 24th) for the glittering awards ceremony, hosted by BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley.
Winners were revealed across 30 categories ranging from Rising Stars, Young Achievers and Excellence Education through to Woman of Achievement,, Woman of Courage, Advocate for Women and Lifetime Achievement.
They were selected from more than 270 nominations across the UK by a panel of 18 judges at a special event in Coventry last month.
The awards marked a return to a live event following the pandemic, while also raising £4,000 for two West Midlands charities, St Basils and Suited For Success through an auction and raffle.
Special guests included The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John McNicholas & Lady Mayoress Dr June McNicholas; Nurse May Parsons – the nurse who gave the first ever covid injection in Coventry and former member of The Drifters, Roy Hemmings.
Key Note speakers were Louise Oliver, President of The British Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Nicola Smyth, owner of Nicola Smyth Hair Salons and last year’s Business Woman of the Year.
Awards organiser and Ladies First Network Leader, Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, said after the event: “I am absolutely buzzing from such an uplifting evening, celebrating the achievements of women, men and talented young ladies from the age of 10, whilst also raising funds for our Charities Suited for Success & St Basils.
“I was delighted in particular to acknowledge the wonderful work of unsung community hero’s, Christine Eade and Sarah Laughton from The Pod Café and John Coote & AJ Evans from Coventry Comfort Carers Homeless Outreach Project – these people support those suffering from mental health issues and homelessness on a daily basis.”
Jacqueline Leake – V A Services, Nuneaton
Jacqueline said: “I am still on a high, and proudly telling anyone and everyone. It has given a real boost to my confidence that the judges recognised how my business has developed and my passion for learning and finding the best digital solutions for myself and my clients to grow their businesses.”
New Business of the Year
William & Kelsey Seymour – St Maur, Alcester
William and Kelsey said: “We are very proud of the achievements we have had so far with our drink St Maur, but these awards from Ladies First are special for us because they are for the business behind the brand, and highlight the real people involved rather than just the product itself.”
Man of the Year
Dan Smyth Humphriss – Nicola Smyth, Leamington
Dan said: “It was a complete surprise to be nominated and then to pick up the award too. I feel very honoured to Win Man of Year!”
Achieves for the Community
Christine Eade & Sarah Laughton – The POD Café, Coventry
Excellence in Education
Suneta Bagri – Teach well, Toolkit, Coventry
Suneta said: “My work is not just a job to me. My work is inextricably linked to my love for education, the doors it opens and the opportunities it provides. My work is service. Making a difference to others is my purpose. So to receive an award for Excellence in Education is up there as one of my proudest achievements to date.”
John Coote & his partner AJ Evans for their work with Coventry Comfort Carers Homeless Outreach Project.
John said: “To win the award for Achievements in the community was a real shock and a true honour. We do what we do for the people of our city and further afield, not for any recognition but to know we are helping those most in need.”
Achieves in Business (Employee)
Corrine Seaborne – Alsters Kelley, Coventry
Corrine said: “I felt truly overwhelmed and humbled to receive this award. The ladder I have climbed at Alsters Kelley from secretary to associate has not been easy but it has been extremely rewarding,helping clients during the difficult times in their lives and supporting colleagues to achieve their ambitions.”
Achieves for Charity
Nicola Hepburn – The Centaurus Trust, Wootton Wawen
Nicola said: “I am so thrilled to have received this award for The Centaurus Trust and Equine Learning Centre CIC. It is so wonderful for our teams to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. This award also recognizes the achievements of our wonderful participants who inspire us all every day.”
Family Business Husband and Wife
Kelsey & William Seymour – St Maur, Alcester
William said: “For Kelsey and I St Maur can be traced back to our wedding day, so for us to be recognised and win the Husband and Wife Award means a lot to us personally. I’m really enjoying the business and I consider myself so fortunate to have married an entrepreneurial lady.”
Excellence In Marketing Award
Vicki Bravington – Shakespeare Media, Stratford-upon-Avon
Vicki said: “The last two years have been a challenge for everyone so to come out the other side stronger than ever and to be recognized among so many inspirational women makes this the proudest moment of my career so far. A massive thanks must also go to my amazing team. We look forward to continuing our journey and to many more successes in the future.”
Going Above & Beyond For Charity Award
Rachel Ollerenshaw, Warwick – of Molly Ollys
Rachel said: “I was completely shocked to receive this award, but I’m very thankful to Ladies First. We don’t try to go above and beyond – we just know that we can make a difference by making the dark days brighter.”
Helen Routledge – Totem Learning, Coventry
She said: “I am so thankful to Ladies First for this amazing award. To be recognised for the work we do at Totem Learning, to bring learning to life, is an honour.”
Inspirational Young Achiever
Twins Stacey & Tracey William,13, from Coventry
Twins Alice & Hattie Mogan,10, from Coventry
Ananya Prajapati, 11,of Ananya Artistry
Ananya said: “This award will give me the confidence to continue my journey as a calligraphy artist and pursue my passion for my own business. This event has been a life changing experience for me.”
Service Provider of the Year
Geraldine Davies – Senior Care Support, Solihull
Achieves Through Networking
Sharon Louca – Women’s Business Networking Limited, Tamworth
Advocate for Women
The Verinos – All Female Band, Leicester
Excellence in Health & Wellbeing
Asha Bezron – Inspired to Change, Balsall Common
Woman of Achievement
Suzanne Reid Barreiro de Silva – Unique Venues, Birmingham
Fay Goodman – Goodmedia, Birmingham
Amy Davies – Madame Caci Lounge & Store & Stove, Balsall Common
Young Business Entrepreneur (Under 30)
Lauren Coombes – Pitch and Party Limited, Balsall Common
Businesswoman of The Year
Olivia Mikhail – Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Michelle Kirkham – of International Automotive Components Group
Family Business of the Year
Jayne Chambers – Haigs Hotel & McKees Restaurant, Balsall Common
Olivia Mikhail – Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Successful Career from Home
Lindsay Gillespie – Pawsome Pooches, Balsall Common
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Gillian and Ruth Bridges – J Roberts SPV, Sutton Coldfield
Sandra Godley, from Coventry – for lifetime achievement in Music
Sandra said: “This was a total shock. Thank you to Tracey and The Ladies First team. I will treasure it forever.”
Coombe Abbey, Coventry
Charlotte Durham – apprenticeship with Pertemps
Lily Wildman, from Kenilworth – Wild Beauty
Sathvika Krishnam, from Coventry – Studying Biology at Oxford University (STEM/Environmental Award)
Ella Freeman – Studying Engineering at Loughborough University (STEM)
Woman of Courage
Andrea Rainsford – SEO Angel, Tamworth
Emily Coldwell – Online Toolbox, New Zealand
More about the charities benefitting
St Basils works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to enable them to find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills and increase opportunities.
Established in Birmingham, the charity now has 42 accommodation projects across the West Midlands, including Leamington, Coventry, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Kidderminster.
Further information about St Basils can be found here
Established in 2016, award-winning charity Suited For Success helps unemployed men and women in Warwickshire and the West Midlands prepare for a job interview by providing free coaching, employment preparation skills and interview clothing.
Further information about Suited For Success can be found here