Call to enter Sunderland Echo business awards

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“YOU should definitely do it.”

Gemma Ganley is in no doubt about the value of entering the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards.

Gemma collected the Young Business trophy at last year’s ceremony for her baking business Love Lily Cakes, named after her late grandmother.

“It has been great. I’ve been really busy, especially with wedding cakes,” said Gemma.

“A lot of people have said they saw me in the paper, so it has brought me a lot of new business.”

Launched eight years ago, the Portfolio Awards not only recognises the achievements of businesses on Wearside, but also their role in promoting the area regionally and nationally.

We have got some great new categories this year, mainly as a result of listening to our entrants and readers about which industries and individuals should be recognised.

For the first time we’ll be honouring companies which do business overseas in our export category.

We’ve also introduced a new award for medium-size businesses, which have between 11 and 50 employees, while retaining our small business (under 10 employees) and large business (over 50 employees) categories.

We’re also recognising the important role served by the leisure industry with a category for this sector, giving organisations such as hotels, restaurants, bars and leisure centres the chance to enter.

This year’s categories also cover training, technology, creative industries as well as employer and employee of the year.

Green firms are also encouraged to enter as are businesses which have been in operation for less than two years for our new business category, while our new business creation award offers budding entrepreneurs the chance to win mentoring from Sunderland University’s Prof Bernie Callaghan and Harland Hair and Beauty’s Darren Williams.

We also have our lifetime achievement award and our overall winner.

Sunderland City Council is again our main sponsor, along with Northumbrian Water, Sunderland University, Gentoo, Azure, CES Group, SAFC, Press Ahead, Morton’s Solicitors, The Bridges, Thompson Building Centres, Nissan, Barclays, TTR Barnes, O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions, Verum Victum and Harland Hair and Beauty.

The closing date for entries is Friday, August 24, and the winners will be announced at a dinner on October 11, at the Stadium of Light where our guest speaker will be former contestant in The Apprentice, Katie Hopkins.

To enter, visit For further information or to book tickets for the dinner, please email

Twitter: @sunechobiz