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Businesses from Around the UK Get Recognition at the 5th Annual Free2Network Awards

Over 150 businesses from all over the UK attended the recent Free2Network Business Awards held at the St George’s Hotel, Llandudno recently.

This is the fifth year of the awards and founder of Free2Network, Nina Sardar, said the support for the awards has never been higher.

We received a staggering number of entries to the awards this year, each of them winners in their own right. I know that Margaret Carter, our judge and host for the evening had a mammoth task in choosing the overall winners.”

As well as winning a stunning award, hand crafted from Welsh slate embedded on a plinth of oak, each of the 12 award winners will receive a mentoring session from Margaret Carter herself. Margaret is a multi-award winner in her own right, business entrepreneur and self-proclaimed CEO – Chief Excitement Officer and founder of Patchwork Traditional Food Company.

Margaret , known for her honest and straight talking approach, didn’t disappoint when she opened the ceremony with a passionate and thought provoking speech. She told the 150 guests:

“You are here at the Free2Network awards to celebrate the businesses that are the best in their field. Being the best means that you should never doubt your passion for your business. If your passion goes then get out.

Being in business means you must remember people buy from people and when you’re passionate about what you do and how you do it, it shines through, always remember that. Your passion is a valuable asset in your business so don’t undervalue it. You may have a similar product to your competitors but make your customer service the best it can be, combined with your passion for your business and you have a winning formula that people will pay for.

Margaret continued:” It isn’t b***dy easy running your own business. There are ups and downs and it can be b***dy hard work but by being the best makes it all worthwhile.”

Margaret also urged businesses to understand their weaknesses and to seek help when it’s needed. She said:
It doesn’t matter what you can’t do, know your strengths and bring people in to deal with them and focus on what you can do. Getting the help you need when you need it makes a huge difference to any business.”

She also warned of the power of karma, saying:
“In business as in life, don’t s**t on anyone or it will come back and bite you. That supplier or contact you treated badly in the past could well be a future client and you’ve already screwed up. It’s karma and be aware of it.”

Finishing off her speech, Margaret gave the audience a final piece of advice. She said:
“Keeping track of the small details is what will set you apart from your competitors. Making sure things are done as they should be is crucial.

“It’s your job as the business owner to be a culture carrier. You need your people to give a damn about your business. Creating a positive culture is key to business success. No one loves your business like you do but being surrounded by people who care about your business is essential.

You are all unique and I would urge all of you to keep that uniqueness and play to your strengths. People may try and copy you but no one but you has the soul and the essence that you put into the business at the beginning so everything else becomes a poor imitation.”

Following a four course meal Margaret then announced the winners, who are as follows:

Winner of Green Business of the Year, sponsored by Building Design Wales was Freyaluna, who hand make natural skincare in rural north Wales. Their products are based on traditional herbal remedies and are blended to feel and smell good and most importantly to be good for your skin.

Founder and Managing Director of Freyaluna Sami Blackford was there to pick up the award from Tammy Wilford.

Margaret said of Freyaluna: “I particularly like your concept as I am personally passionate about avoiding all ‘Nasties’ in every area of my life. The thoroughness of your approach to detail in making all areas of your business “Green and Clean” right from making the product until it gets delivered is to be commended.

Sami said: “It’s a great feeling to be recognised for being an ethical and green business, in fact, it’s a total buzz! Freylaluna is my passion and being green is key to the whole business.”

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Winner of the Network Marketing Person of the Year, sponsored by Patchwork Pate, was Vicky Cutler, an independent distributor for Utility Warehouse, an award winning utility supplier and discount club. After working hard to expand her team Vicky is now a Group Leader of a national team of distributers looking after almost 2,000 customers. Vicky was presented her award by Jenny Whitman.

Margaret said of Vicky: “Vicky there are so many qualities I admire in your work model which is why you are a winner. Your passion for helping people to achieve their full potential and being available for your customers issues as well as giving excellent customer service are admirable.

Self-development is essential when we handle other people especially in business. And (of course) having fun is very important!!! You are committed to being consistent, this is a business value that I personally respect and admire in you as a business person. I am glad you have been singled out, you thoroughly deserve this award.”

Vicky said: “To win this award is just amazing. Working in a network marketing company like Utility Warehouse has its own rewards but to be recognised amongst my peers as someone who does a good job is the icing on the cake.”

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Winner of the Rachel Elnaugh Enterprise award, partner by Cleaner Care was Michelle Childs of Bizmums, a national supportive community of self-employed mums who inspire and motivate each other through monthly meetings. Bizmums was founded just two years ago and now has over 60 monthly meet-ups all over the UK. Denise Lardner presented the award to Michelle.

Margaret said to Michelle: “The vision and relentless drive Michelle has applied to her brain child BizMums is a much needed service as Mums can lead an isolated life. The fact that Michelle provides nationally a model of constructive business as well as social media support and friendship to so many Mums is admirable.

“Awesome that there is a chosen worthy charity the Mums help contribute to and that Michelle sees the vision for the future growth of her company as limitless.”

Michelle said: “Winning this award is all down to having great hosts as well as brilliant members. They are the heart of Bizmums. I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Nina Sardar for her support.”

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Winner of the Corporate Social Responsibility Award, partnered by PeoplePlus was Teresa Carnall of TBC Marketing, a marketing company focusing on marketing communications. Since the launch of her business over 10 years ago Teresa has been passionate about giving back to the local community. She is chair and founding member of Bay of Colwyn Business Network who started Colwyn Bay Forties Festival, in 2012. The festival has grown to be one of the highlights of the year and brought in almost £300,000 of economic benefit to the town in 2015 alone. Sarah Jane Lupton presented Teresa with the award.

Margaret told Teresa: “Wow Mrs I Love your energy and the fact that you share it around successfully to those you care passionately for and about . You will always be a winner it’s in your DNA! You are driven to support in so many diverse areas and this shows your caring nature for individuals and your community. All your diverse involvements feed and support each other and you.

“Always asking a busy person if one wants something or anything done efficiently ... That would be you Mrs! “

Teresa said: “Giving back to my local community is a brilliant feeling and winning this award is just a fantastic bonus. Corporate Social Responsibility has been one of the cornerstones of my business since I first began 10 years ago and will continue to be so. I’m totally chuffed.”

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Entrepreneur of the Year, partnered by Integral Life Centre was Caroline Stevenson of Foodinate, a social enterprise that teams up with bars and restaurants to tackle food poverty in local communities. Foodinate, which began trading in 2015, is hoping their unique buy-one-give-one model will provide in excess of 100,000 meals to people in need by the end of their first year of trading, increasing to almost a million meals by the end of year three. Caroline was presented her award by Ian McDonald.

Margaret said of Caroline: “Awesome and such an original concept incredibly well and thoroughly thought out, especially as you are so young.

“You have a very clear vision and most importantly, the drive and passion to drive a business, this is why you are a clear winner. The figures you have presented show the success of your model and I love the clear projected growth you envisage. A very honourable concept.”

Caroline said: “I’m extremely passionate about ending food poverty and I’m hoping this award will help raise awareness of the food poverty that exists in our communities. This is such an exciting evening and being surrounded by so many inspirational people is just fantastic.

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Margaret Carter Young Entrepreneur of the Year, partnered by 9 Bar was awarded to Shaun Roberts of Creative Catalysts, an online marketing agency based in Wrexham focusing on building businesses online presence that converts to business. Creative Catalysts (CC) was started by Shaun when he was just 19. CC work closely with their clients ensuring the clients expectations are met every step of the way. Shaun has already been featured as one of the ’35 young men making their mark in Business in Wales’ and is passionate about supporting others in their entrepreneurial journey. The award was presented by Mark Gould.

Margaret told Shaun: “I totally get that being a dyslexic makes you more determined to prove your worthiness and to be successful. You have already shown these awesome attributes by being a winner of this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the year. Your chosen business model is primarily to be honest and relevant to your customer’s individual needs. This is proved over and over again in your testimonials.

“Your personal drive and your honourable value model will definitely see you winning many more awards!

Shaun said: “I’m actually in shock! I’m completely overjoyed to win this award and really can’t quite believe it.” This whole evening has been just fantastic and the winning the award has capped it completely.”

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Networking Person of the Year partnered by Free2Network was won by Philip Roberts of Knox Commercial & Insolvency Solicitors, a firm of solicitors based in Llandudno specialising in commercial and insolvency law. Philip has been with Knox Solicitors for just 12 months and during that time has helped transform the businesses networking outreach. His exceptional networking skills have significantly increased the profile of the firm across the region and he has introduced a number of significant work referrers to the company. Philip received the award from Nina Sardar.

Margaret said of Philip: I have total admiration plus first-hand experience of meeting him at the award dinner. Philip was at ease and confident which is a rare quality at any age let alone 23!

One of my passions is working with young folk on Soft Skills and Philip has an abundance of these skills! Full respect Philip, you are definitely a huge asset to your present employers.”

Philip said: “Wow, winning this award is just an amazing achievement! It’s great working with Andrea (Andrea Knox of Knox Commercial and Insolvency Solicitors) who always encourages me to be the best I can be in every aspect of my job!”

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Leader of the Year partnered by Supertemps went to Elen Rowlands of Glasdir, a purpose built business and conference centre in Llanrwst. Since Elen’s arrival as manager of Glasdir, which is run as a social enterprise, in 2012 has turned Glasdir from being ‘Conwy Valley’s best kept secret’ into a thriving and popular conference venue which is seen as a leading conference centre in Wales. Elen and her team have increased the venue’s bookings by a massive 88% and turned a business making a loss to one that now makes a healthy profit, all of which is ploughed back into Glasdir. The award was presented to Elen by Sarah Vaughan.

Margaret said of Elen: “You are a true leader Elen, I love how you have successfully taken on the challenge of making Glasdir Centre not only self-sufficient but also most important moved from a loss making to a profitable organisation.

“Also the way you have empowered your team in such a short time is very commendable. All your hard work is perfectly reflected in the financials. It’s so rewarding Elen for you to be responsible for all the positive change. Many congratulations well deserved.”

Elen said: “I’m totally thrilled to have won this award; it’s an amazing achievement for me and my team. Having such a fantastic team working with me has helped Glasdir become a thriving business and conference centre – and I couldn’t be happier.”

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The Khizar Sardar Business Man of the Year Award partnered by the Federation of Small Business went to Geoff Wiltshire of Tudno TV, a multi-media business specialising in promotional videos, music production and corporate training films based in Quinton Hazell Enterprise Parc, Colwyn Bay. Since starting the business in 2010 when Geoff was seen as the ‘man with a camera’ Tudno TV now comprises of Tudno TV, a professional videography service; Tudno Media, a landscape photography which is soon to incorporate both aerial video and photography services and Hedshotz photographic studio. His work now takes him all over the country and he is always in demand. The award was presented by Jennifer Langley.

Margaret said of Geoff: “Your whole approach, not only being innovative in your field of photography, but also helping to build up the skills and confidence of your students make you a worthy winner of Business Man of the Year. Being successful as a creative person is an achievement in itself but you have also built up your skills in the field of finance as well. Both of these challenges you have mastered with confidence.”

Geoff said: “I’m totally blown away! It’s a fantastic achievement to be recognised in this way. I’ve had a great business year and this award is the pinnacle. Just brilliant!”

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Saira Khan Business Woman of the Year, partnered by Glasdir Skills Academy, went to Kerry Evans of Mode Academy, a nail and beauty training academy based in Rhyl. Kerry began Mode Academy just two years ago and despite overcoming many personal difficulties Kerry has created a range of beauty training courses which are open to students from all walks of life. Kerry understands that everyone’s way of learning is different and ensures that each student is given the support they need, which results in a 99% student return rate. All Mode’s staff are encouraged to keep their skills up to date through Continual Professional Development which ensures all courses are delivered to the same high standard. Kerry received her award from Teresa Carnall and Elen Rowlands.

Margaret told Kerry: “I love your determination to both overcome and succeed, these are admirable qualities that one needs to get on in life and especially in one’s own business.

The high business standards you set your pupils and yourself are admirable in this day an age where there is so much competition. Your standards are what set you apart from others and have made you a worthy winner of Business Woman of the Year. People gravitate to people they can trust and those who have high standards and you are the living proof of this.”

Kerry said: “Winning the Business Woman of the year means so much to me. I give everything to my students and business and to get recognition for that means the world and thank you to Margaret for seeing that.”

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New Business of the Year, partnered by Tudno TV went to Sebastian Steinhauser of Parcelly. Based in London, Parcelly is an innovative parcel delivery service with a UK network of collection points. Parcelly was launched in December 2014 and already has a network of over 200 collection points in London and across the UK. Parcelly was created to overcome the frustration felt by consumers attempting to take delivery of their online purchases which were being delivered to their home at inconvenient times. By using local businesses as delivery service drop off points, Parcelly also actively encourages business footfall. Parcelly has already compensated more than 10 tons of CO2 greenhouse gases by cutting down on repeated deliveries to the same address. The award was presented by Geoff Wiltshire.

Margaret said to Sebastion, MD of Parcelly: “Brilliant concept. I love that you saw a hole in the domestic delivery system in London and created a business model with masses of potential for growth not only in the UK but also across Europe. I admire that you have exited the banking world and have become an Award Winning Entrepreneur in your first 12 months.”

Sebastian said: “We’re very proud to be presented with this award especially from a Welsh based award network as we’ve just recently started growing our Parcelly network in Wales and have over 20 Parcelly partners already! To gain this industry recognition is just fantastic. As a team all of us work very hard to make Parcelly work and grow as quickly as possible. We’re really very thrilled.”

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Business of the Year, partnered by Allington Hughes Law was won by Cleaner Care, Conwy, a high quality service for commercial, domestic and holiday home cleaning across North Wales. Cleaner Care was started in 2005 by Denise Lardner, who started off with a Henry vacuum cleaner and plenty of determination and enthusiasm. Denise now employs over 60 staff and has contracts both large and small all over north Wales. Cleaner Care was also named as finalists in Conwy Business Awards and is proud to say their very first client is still with them! The award was presented to Denise Lardner by Alison Brebner, MD of Allington Hughes Law.

Margaret said of Denise: “You show brilliant commitment and passion, both these are vital ingredients for achieving success in news business. This is clearly why you are a winner.

“The growth of your business is a credit to you I love that you care for your team individually, especially that you encourage Mum’s so they can juggle the guilt of working with their child care duties. It is also great that you have chosen to sponsor the young local football teams .”

Denise said: “Winning the Business of the Year is a completely fantastic achievement. To gain recognition of this level is just brilliant. Everything that we’ve achieved through our 10 years in business is through teamwork, teamwork is absolutely everything.”

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