THERE was wall-to-wall glamour and glitz at the inaugural Enterprise Vision Awards (EVA) which took place at the newly-refurbished five-star venue Ribby Hall Spa Hotel.
The EVAs were launched this year by Fylde coast-based female networking groups Pink Link Ladies, to recognise North West women in business.
More than 300 guests attended the glittering ceremony – including many travelled from across the North West and one gentleman, who had flown in from Spain.
Coral Horn, from Pink Link Ladies, one of the founders, said: “Only 15 per cent of business are owned by women in he UK, compared to 51 per cent in the US.
“It is important to recognise, promote and encourage women in business and to inspire our young girls. The Northwest Development Agency held a women in business event last year, but due to funding cuts the awards were not repeated. So the EVAs were launched.
“It was a fantastic glamorous event. We are looking forward to doing it again next year.”
The awards’ headline sponsor was Santander and they also attracted sponsorship from FY Creatives in Blackpool.
There were 10 categories from Small Business of the Year to Inspirational Woman of the Year and hundreds of entrants.
A Dragon’s Den-style interview process was held in front of a judging panel to whittle down the shortlist of finalists.
The public were then given the chance to vote for their winner and those who scooped the top titles were announced on the night itself.
MC for the occasion was Kirsty Henshaw, a Preston mum who won investment from Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones after she appeared on Dragon’s Den last year for her frozen dessert business.
Rae Stephenson, from Pink Link Ladies – co-founder of the EVAs, said: “Kirsty was the perfect choice for the event, as she is from Lancashire and is a single mum, who successfully launched a product which is now in all major supermarkets across the UK.”
On the night, there was entertainment from local magician Russell Brown and Eva Fox – a burlesque singer from Preston.
Winners were presented with specially-designed trophies and prizes donated from local firms – including a basket of goodies from M&S Blackpool and advertising from Radio Wave.
Business Woman of the Year - Dr Caroline Chesworth, of Mad Science North West. The firm delivers after school programmes, holiday clubs and workshops to inspire the scientists of the future.
Retail Business of the Year - Alison Wood, Legends Gift Shop, of Longton. Independent retailer of affordable luxury in the form of gifts, greeting cards and accessories.
Health and Beauty Business - Julie Kline, of Cheiron Chiropractic Clinic, Preston.
Training and Coaching - Rachel Haslam, of Team Academy, Preston.
Professional Services - Natasha Schofield, Grassroots HR, Leyland.
Creative Industry Business of the Year - Altru Drama, Liverpool.
Financial Services – Tracy Irwin, TI Payroll, Dalton-in-Furness.
New Business of the year - Vicky Higham, The Pinfold – a community magazine distributed in the Furness area.
Small Business of the Year - Wendy Nissen, Bellissimo, one of Bolton’s most established beauty salons.
Inspiration Woman of the Year - Rheagan Hendry.
INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN OF THE YEAR:
Rheagan Hendry –
Daughter of former Blackpool FC player, Colin Hendry – set up The Denise Hendry Foundation earlier this year, in memory of her mum Denise who died in 2009.
The organisation aims to provide support for those who have suffered from medical negligence.
Denise had herself suffered years of illness and enduring hospital treatment after a botched liposuction procedure.
Rheagan’s vision is to build the Denise Hendry Foundation Centre for Victims of Clinical Negligence, which will help people through legal advice, financial advice, emotional and psychological therapies – as well as lifestyle and well-being management for patients and their families.
The 22-year-old from Kirkham, also launched the Keep It Real Campaign for Natural Beauty, by asking the health minister to bring in tighter regulations to voluntary cosmetic surgery and young women’s access to it.
Rheagan, who is a mum-of-one, ran the first Miss Natural Northwest 2011 competition, in which £5,000 was raised for the foundation and she is planning to take the contest nationally, with the first Miss Natural UK to take place in September 2012.
She has been asked to work alongside BAAPS (British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons), IHAS (Independent Health Advisory Service) and TYCT (Treatments You Can Trust), to help create a safer understanding of aesthetic surgery and its risks.
She said: “Its been an absolute honour to win Inspirational Woman of the Year and to share it with business women who I respect so highly for their achievements was really appreciated.
“The support has been incredible and I am absolutely overwhelmed.
“To share it with my family was a bittersweet moment, as we would have loved nothing more than to have had my mum to watch me with it.
“My mum is my inspiration and for me, she truly deserves not inspirational woman of the year, but for me, of all time.”