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North East Entrepreneurial Awards finalists revealed

The 2019 award winners: Graham Sleep, Toby Bridges, Tony Cleary, Lorna Moran OBE, and Dan Martin

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has unveiled the finalists for its online North East Entrepreneurial Awards.

Delivered during a week-long social media campaign, starting Monday 8th February, the 2020 North East Entrepreneurial Awards recognises entrepreneurs from across the region who have demonstrated strong leadership and innovation during extraordinary times.

The awards are comprised of five categories that recognise outstanding individuals at each stage of the entrepreneurial journey.

The shortlisted finalists for Emerging Talent – those who have built a business of outstanding potential trading for six years or less – are: Rez Gachcar (Mud Daddy), Andrew Mackay (Coleman James) and Doug Dinwiddie (White Digital).


Recognising those achieving strong, sustainable growth in revenue and profit, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be contested by: Nagma Ebanks-Beni (Prima Cheese), Simon Bailes (Simon Bailes Peugeot) and Glen Hall (Talent Insight Group).

The Scale-up Award acknowledges business owners who have navigated the challenges created by the pandemic and are on course to achieve their future growth ambitions. They will have led their company to achieve 20 per cent plus annualised growth in either turnover, profit or employee numbers for the past three years. The shortlisted entrepreneurs are: Dan Foskett (Connection Flooring), Vikki Jackson-Smith (J&B Recycling) and Zaffar Iqbal (Bentincks Furniture).

The winners of the Mentor of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement awards is kept a closely guarded secret and will be unveiled during the awards week.

For the first time, the North East Entrepreneurial Awards is being delivered online with winners being announced via the Entrepreneurs’ Forum social media channels the week commencing Monday 8th February.

The 2019 awards, delivered at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead hotel, saw Tony Cleary of Lanchester Group recognised as Entrepreneur of the Year, while Toby Bridges of NBT Group won the Scale-Up Award. Lorna Moran was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dan Martin, who founded electronic vehicle company Elmtronics, won the Emerging Talent award, with Graham Sleep rounding up 2019’s winners as he was named Mentor of the Year.

Elaine Stroud of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum said: “2020 has been a unique year to say the least and while we can’t celebrate as we usually do, we still wanted to acknowledge the exceptional work of those who are leading dynamic and growing businesses in the region.

“Our 2020 finalists have demonstrated incredible leadership skills and are on track to achieve fantastic things in exceptional times.

“We’re looking forward to revealing the winners in the week commencing 8th February and wish everyone the best of luck.”

Since the first award was presented to John Hays of Hays Travel in 2004, the North East Entrepreneurial Awards has recognised 50 of the region’s leading entrepreneurs, including property developer Sir John Hall, Paul Callaghan CBE of Leighton Group, and Anne Preston MBE of Prestons of Potto.

This year, the Awards are supported by Brewin Dolphin, Diamond Group, Encore Group, Narrative and Ward Hadaway.

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