Enterprising women

Enterprising Women Awards 2021: Winners announced at East Midlands Chamber gala

Apprentices, entrepreneurs and STEM ambassadors were among those recognised at East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women Awards.

Eight women in business took home honours at the gala dinner on Friday (8 October), which was held at Nottingham Belfry in partnership with headline sponsor Futures Housing Group.

The evening was topped off by the Business Woman of the Year title, which was awarded to Colleague Box managing director Natalie Bamford.

She founded the Derby-based personalised gift box service alongside husband Adam during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020. At the time, she was on furlough as a technology company’s expedite services assistant and came up with the idea of posting the boxes to home-based colleagues in order to “spread a bit of happiness and positivity” while the country was engulfed by “doom and gloom”.

The couple have already grown it into a £1m turnover business as corporations have identified the benefits of being able to send low-cost, high-quality gift boxes – which can be personalised or themed to feature everything from prosecco and coffee to chocolate and candles – that can be sent to staff en masse.

Asked what she liked best about the business after picking up the award, Natalie said: “We get to spread positivity and happiness, so that initial aim of when we first started Colleague Box is what still excites us today.”

Enterprising Women Awards gala dinner returns after 18 months

This was the first time the Enterprising Women Awards had been held since early March 2020, just before lockdown.

It is the biggest event in the calendar for East Midlands Chamber’s Enterprising Women network, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year.

Chamber president Eileen Richards MBE, who co-chairs the network with Jean Mountain, said: “It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the Enterprising Women Awards in person and welcome back all our members and supporters. You could physically feel the enthusiasm and emotion within the room, which demonstrates just how much these awards mean to individuals.

“We have so many unbelievable women working at all levels of businesses across the East Midlands – from CEOs to managers to apprentices – and it is incredible to see them recognised.”

Jean, a past president of the Chamber, added: “Our Enterprising Women network has gone from strength to strength, and this evening is always the crowning event in our calendar so it was brilliant to see everyone again.

“Congratulations to all our winners and finalists, who thoroughly deserve the opportunity to have their stories told to the region. We can’t wait to be back next year and have some exciting plans to mark our 25th anniversary.”

The 300 guests collectively donated £1,270 to the Chamber’s three chosen charities this year – Chesterfield Samaritans, Help the Homeless Leicester and Nottinghamshire Hospice.

ITV weather presenter Emma Jesson hosted the black-tie event, with entertainment provided by Michael Bublé tribute act Mike All Bublé.

Enterprising Women Awards 2021 winners

Business Woman of the Year (sponsored by Futures Housing Group)

Winner

Natalie Bamford, Colleague Box (Derby)

Finalists

Rowan Bradley, Children’s Therapy Solutions

Sandra Wiggins, DPI UK

Jillian Thomas, Future Life Wealth Management

Claire Twells, Smith Partnership

Helen Wathall, Wathall’s Funeral Directors

Female Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Midlands Engine Investment Fund)

Winner

Rachel Hayward, Ask the Chameleon (Derby)

Finalists

Janice Holmes, Janice Rose Lingerie

Iwona Lebiedowicz, PAB Languages

Nicky Botham, Shed Grounds Maintenance

Jaz Kaur, Fraser Stretton Estate Agents

Social Commitment Award (sponsored by PPL PRS)

Winner

CR Civil Engineering (Loughborough)

Finalists

Bodie Hodges Foundation

Cross Productions

Halo Recruit

Hot House Music

Small Business of the Year (sponsored by Unique Window Systems)

Winner

Shed Grounds Maintenance (Chesterfield)

Finalists

Access Training

Balls2 Marketing

Breedon Consulting

We Love Surveys

Female Employee of the Year (sponsored by Smallman & Son)

Winner

Matilda Swanson, Loates HR Consultancy (Derby)

Finalists

Vicky Evans, Air Ambulance Service

Ana-Andreea Covaliu, Design Studio Architects

Hollie Newton, EMA Training

Rosie McLaughlin, Embark Federation

Team of the Year (sponsored by She Inspires Global)

Winner

RideWise (Nottingham)

Finalists

Astute Recruitment

Cross Productions

DPI UK

Futures Housing Group

Outstanding Contribution to Work in STEM (sponsored by Pick Everard)

Winner

Rail Forum

Finalists

DPI UK

Emh group

JB Engineering

Midland Lead

Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by EMA Training)

Winner

Evie Smith, Reckitt Benckiser (UK) (Derbyshire)

Finalists

Brooke Dennis, Recruit 2 You

Courtney Bower, Recruit 2 You

Hannah Ward, Wytech

Bethany Less, Xbite

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