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Prize winner’s praise for Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards after win boosts business

East Coast Fitness boss Graham Low gets his award from Emma Graham, from Chartered Surveyer, Bradley Hall.
East Coast Fitness boss Graham Low gets his award from Emma Graham, from Chartered Surveyer, Bradley Hall.

A double winner has seen his business grow since winning a Portfolio award for the second year in a row.

Graham Low was the returning champion when he was shortlisted in the Sole Trader of the Year category of the 2017 Sunderland Echo awards with his business East Coast Fitness - and won again.

Being self employed and a sole trader, you put lots of hours in every day and every month. To get some sort of recognition is brilliant

Graham Low

“I thought it would be tough to retain it. It was a massive surprise,” he admitted.

But the judges had been mightily impressed by the comments from some of his clients, such as one who said: “Whether it’s a question about nutrition, exercise or needing a push, Graham is there and so are the rest of the group.”

East Coast Fitness was described as “a great asset to the sole trader/small business sector in the region and keeping us active and healthy.”

Graham described the awards night as “brilliant” and said: “It was a chance for me to get some of my clients and family together, and get out and celebrate and have a good time together.”

And when asked what difference it had made to his business, Graham said: “Being self employed and a sole trader, you put lots of hours in every day and every month. To get some sort of recognition is brilliant.”

Since the Portfolio win, East Coast Fitness - which is based in Seaham - has grown.

Read more: Help us find the best in business at this year’s Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards

Three more staff have been taken on and Graham has had to increase the number of classes he offers.

He urged others to enter this year’s awards and said: “It is great for a personal sense of achievement.”

Once again, we want to hear from the people who make the area tick on the business front but we can only do that if we receive your nominations.

Individuals, businesses themselves - in fact anyone can put forward a nomination for this year’s awards for a company that they feel is deserving of recognition.

There are plenty of well known categories from previous years such as small, medium and large business of the year, as well as exporter of the year.

Or you might want to enter sections such as apprentice of the year, technology of the year or best green business.

Whatever your choice, make sure you get those entries in so that we can honour the very best that Wearside has to offer.

Yet again, we have fantastic backers on board to help make the awards a success.

Make it Sunderland is again our headline sponsor, and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.

Make It Sunderland is also backing the contribution social enterprises make to the city in the Social Enterprise Award.

Other sponsors are Northumbrian Water, Gentoo, Stagecoach in Sunderland, The Bid, ResQ, BIC, Maxim Brewery, Sunderland College, Creo, Station Taxis, Bradley Hall, and PG Legal Commercial Solicitors.

•Get nominating and let’s make this a year of celebration of the best in Wearside business.

To nominate, post your nominations to Lynn Wild, Sunderland Echo, Alexander House, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le- Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

Alternatively, you can email lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk.