'We think it’s wonderful that female entrepreneurs in Sunderland are being recognised': Business chiefs get behind our Wearside Women in Business awards

An innovative organisation is helping entrepreneurs to flourish on Wearside – and they’re also helping in our search for the best in business.

By Chris Cordner
Wednesday, 07 August, 2019, 11:45
Tracy Woodhouse and Helen Lumley of Breakfree Counselling.

The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) is part of an impressive list of backers for the Sunderland Echo’s first Wearside Women in Business awards.

The BIC is on board as the sponsor of the Start-up Business Woman of the Year category and bosses described their backing of that particular award as an easy choice after supporting over 4,000 people to start their own business.

Officials said the BIC recognises the hard work and commitment entrepreneurs have and the challenges they face when striving for their dream of being self-employed.

The line-up of sponsors for the Wearside Women In Business Awards.

One such example is Tracy Woodhouse and Helen Lumley who set up their company Breakfree Counselling, based at the BIC on Sunderland Enterprise Park.

They are soon to celebrate their first year in business and Tracy said: “As a mother it was a big step for me to make the decision to go back to university and then an even bigger step to set up our own business. There’s certainly a lot of juggling to be done when you set up on your own but help is out there.

“No one knows what they’re doing at first but we’ve had great support from the BIC and we’ve definitely learnt as we go!”

Helen added: “In my thirties I realised that if you really want something, go for it. When you have other responsibilities it can be easy to fall into a job and just do it for the money. But if you’re really passionate about something then what’s the worst that can happen?”

Shirley Hermiston, Business Support Manager at the BIC said: “We know some of the challenges women in particular sometimes face when making the decision to start up their own business. It can be especially challenging if you have a young family and other commitments a busy life brings.

“But we have so many brilliant success stories of women in our area taking that first step and we think it’s wonderful that female entrepreneurs in Sunderland are being recognised.”

We have a line-up of six great organisations who are all sponsoring the first ever Wearside Women In Business Awards.

They are Sunderland BIC, Gentoo, Club Zest, MBC Arts Wellbeing, TCL At Home and UK Fostering North East, and they have all joined the Sunderland Echo in the quest to find the city’s best.

The categories:

Start Up Business Woman of the Year

Open to all growing businesses that have started trading since September 2013 and which are owned, part owned or wholly or partly run by a woman.

Business Woman of the Year

Recognising Wearsides most successful business women, these women need to show the great drive, dedication and determination that has made a difference in their working environment. Women who juggle all aspects of their lives with great results, women who may also be an outstanding mothers, leaders and role models.

Rising Star of the Year

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(under 16s) She may be a star of the present... or of the future. This award is also open for colleges and schools to nominate.

Female Apprentice of the Year

Judges will be looking for a demonstration of hard work and commitment to achieving the best possible results across the apprentice’s chosen framework and outstanding commitment to their own personal development and progression through learning.

Contribution to Community

For the woman who has made a difference to her immediate and/or the wider Weaside community.

Women in Education Award

We are looking for someone working in education who has gone that extra mile for children, teenagers or students or the company workforce.

Mentor of the Year

For the woman who has demonstrated exceptional skills as a mentor.

Inspirational Woman of the Year

The ability to inspire people to reach great heights of performance and success

Lifetime Achievement Award

What now?

You have until September 2 to send us your entries and the judges will meet to draw up a shortlist three days later.

Then it is on to the grand finale – a lunchtime awards ceremony on Thursday, September 26.

But for now, we need your nominations to make the event a big success. Email lynn.wild@jpimedia.co.uk and tell us the name, address, business of your nominated person and why you feel they deserve to win.

Or alternatively, send your entries to https://www.echowomeninbusiness.co.uk.