Awards for small business heroes

Individuals who have successfully set up their own businesses in the face of adversity are being encouraged to have their achievements recognised through the Barclays Trading Places Awards, now in their second year.

The awards, which are supported by The Prince’s Trust, Business Link and Jobcentre Plus, are looking to reward and celebrate men and women from the UK who have started up in business and turned their lives around despite significant obstacles and adversity.

Open to small businesses and sole traders operating for more than three months but less than three years, judges are interested in people who have overcome challenges such as long-term unemployment, financial hurdles, physical disabilities, discrimination and personal tragedy.

Entrepreneurial luminaries like Dame Anita Roddick, Sir Terence Conran, Simon Woodroffe, and Lord Sainsbury have endorsed the awards, which it is hoped will be an inspiration to others.

‘Trading Places is a celebration of unsung heroes who, in spite of great personal challenges, have taken steps to establish a sustainable business and in doing so changed the direction of their lives for the better,’ enthuses Barclays’ Marketing Director for Local Business, John Davis. ‘It celebrates the inspiring achievement of these individuals whilst highlighting an increasingly important sector of the business community – the sole traders and small business operations that underpin our economy.’

Last year’s finalists included 40-year old Anna Vardakastanis, who overcame a destructive divorce and serious debt to set up her own travel business; 36-year-old Peter Murtha, who battled severe depression and drug addiction to start up a hair replacement salon; and 72-year old harp craftsman Merlin Maddock, suffering from a spinal injury and osteoporosis, who, with his carer, set up a business producing harps that people could build themselves.

The overall winner was Baxter Promotions, run by Chris and Geoff Baxter (pictured, with Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry), who recovered from illness and redundancy to create a business producing recycled promotional items and business gifts. They have ambitious plans for the future, but are determined to maintain a close involvement with the community and the needs of the disadvantaged.

Sitting on the judging panel will be Ian King, Business Editor of The Sun, Michelle Mone, founder of Ultimo and MJM International, and John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, along with senior representatives from The Prince’s Trust, Business Link and Jobcentre Plus. They will choose ten finalists to attend the ‘glittering gala awards dinner’ on Wednesday 27 September, where the overall winner will be announced and will win £14,000 worth of prizes, with the runner-up scooping £7,000 in prizes.

Nomination forms are available by calling the awards hotline on
020-8673 2020 or visiting The closing date is Friday 26 May.

Related Topics