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North East Entrepreneur Lizzy Hodcroft Wins Start-Up Forward Ladies Award

Forward Ladies has announced the winners of the National Awards and Summit for 2019 and North East entrepreneur Lizzy Hodcroft has won top prize in the Start-up category.

The Awards took place at a celebration lunch at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Newcastle before an inspirational audience of senior and influential business leaders.

The esteemed National Awards Series, which acknowledge and promote the fact that women are an integral and invaluable part of every business, are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. Forward Ladies continues to recognise and honour the most respected businesswomen, across a wide range of business categories.

Speaking at the ceremony, Lizzy Hodcroft, co-founder of the online mental health service, Myndr, said: “Winning the Regional Award for the Start Up category provides us with a great chance to look back on all the hard work we’ve done and celebrate the success still to come.

“I’m so pleased that others understand the importance of something like Myndr within the mental health space. Next stop – National Finals in November!”

Recently listed on the 35 under 35 Business Talent to Watch List, Lizzy Hodcroft is a tsunami of passion and commitment that typifies entrepreneurs. She manages to balance her strong work ethic and energy with an alluring vulnerability. Founder of The Sweet Beet and Myndr and see on Dragons Den.

Forward Ladies Managing Director Griselda Togobo, continued: “It is 100 years since women first got the right to vote in the UK, but gender equality remains elusive. Whilst we have clearly made progress over the years, our mission to achieve equality and bring diversity to leadership roles is not yet complete.

“That said, this has been another fantastic year for women and that should be celebrated, and through our National Awards we are once again delighted to showcase the very best women in business here in the UK.

“The calibre of entries has been increasing year on year, and our regional shortlists are the everyday heroines, trailblazers and role models who have succeeded despite enormous challenges. They deserve recognition.”

“Each year we are inspired by the number of high-calibre entries, and this year has highlighted the exceptionally talented businesswomen we have in the UK. These entrants are the future entrepreneurs of our country and play a critical role in our economy.”

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Awards, Forward Ladies is recognising men who are championing and leading the drive for diversity and inclusivity in their businesses and the wider community, and this year the Male Agent of Change award will be presented as well at the Grand Final in Leeds on the 29th November.

The nine category winners will now take part in a judging day in Sheffield in November, before a distinguished panel of business leaders, where they will join finalists from regional events in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, and London and the South. The overall national winner will be announced at the Grand Final to be held in Leeds on the 29th November.

The keynote speaker at the Yorkshire, Scotland & North East Awards was Jacqui Miller-Charlton MBE, founder of Newcastle International Film Festival and trail blazer in the construction, quarrying, mining and associated industries, whose unique and determined approach secured global success for the business as she led the charge that changed the face of how hydraulic excavators are used around the globe.

Jacqui’s passion for diversity is born from her own experiences of being a female business owner in male-dominated sectors and she outlined her beliefs that no-one should be prevented from succeeding in businesses as a result of their gender, race, sexuality or disability. Her aim is to impact, influence and provoke change.

The Awards were delighted to welcome back LNER, one of the award sponsors this year, and are supported by many sector leading businesses including Tastecard, Grant Thornton, Durham University Business School and the Institute of Directors.

Trophies were presented to the winners in each category:

Corporate Leader Category


Jacqui Hall, Managing Director, CNG Ltd

Jacqui Hall has been at the helm of CNG for almost two decades. Determined to make the energy industry a fairer place, Jacqui has positioned CNG to lead by example, championing competition, fairness and a duty of care to energy users.

Emerging Leader & Category


Kelly Convery, Global HR Manager, Northern Gas and Power

I am Global HR Manager overseeing a small team. Global brief to support the directors deliver strategic growth plans. Sought opportunities to upskill. My journey includes three promotions. Main responsibility • Manage complex employee relations • Apply HR and business knowledge • Advise on T&Cs • Operating policies procedures

STEM Leader Category


Jessica Yeung, Chartered Electrical Engineer, Mott MacDonald

A member of the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers, with 10 years+ postgraduate experience within the building services industry. Jessica grew up intrigued by electricity and developed a love for science and mathematics. Following her bachelor’s degree, Jessica obtained a Master’s degree in building services engineering.

Charity & Social Enterprise Category


Victoria Dunn, Managing Director, Nouveau Wellbeing

Victoria Dunn, Managing Director of Nouveau Wellbeing and ActivCare Coaching. Former Interim CEO of The Key, has over ten year’s senior leadership experience providing strategic and operational support to charities to improve the lives of others.

Start Up Category


Lizzy Hodcroft, Director/Founder, Myndr

Recently listed on the 35 under 35 Business Talent to Watch List, Lizzy Hodcroft is a tsunami of passion and commitment that typifies entrepreneurs. She manages to balance her strong work ethic and energy with an alluring vulnerability. Founder of The Sweet Beet and Myndr and see on Dragons Den.

Young Entrepreneur Category


Chloë Clover, Creative Director, Wander Films

I started my business journey in Sydney with my partner. We travelled the world creating social vids for tourism businesses with nothing but a camera and a laptop. We came home to grow the company and are now employing our 2nd + 3rd staff and working with international companies.

Female Entrepreneur Category


Sophie Milliken, Managing Director, Smart Resourcing Solutions

I am the managing director of Smart Resourcing Solutions, based in Newcastle and operating UK-wide. Specialising in graduate recruitment and employability, we provide assessment design and delivery support for employers such as M&S and AXA. For universities, we are the award-winning market leaders in large scale assessment simulations for students.

Public Sector / Academia / Not For Profit Category

Joint Winners:

Joanna Berry, Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship Durham University Business School / IoD;

Joanna achieved her Oxford Law degree in 1985, practicing in South Africa before undertaking senior international business development roles. Entrepreneurship beckoned, then a move into academia for her MBA and PhD. Joanna has never stopped teaching, or learning; she’s an inspiration to her students, and entrepreneurial women in business everywhere.

Nicola Chance-Thompson, CEO, The Piece Hall Trust

Nicky Chance-Thompson – CEO of The Piece Hall Trust. After re-opening on 1st August 2017, visitor numbers have exceeded 4m. Nicky previously had a successful career for over 24 years in the communications, music, retail and consultancy business – supporting Government to deliver important and often controversial regeneration/ infrastructure projects

Mentor of the Year:


Poonam Kaur, Managing Director, fds Director Services Limited

As Managing Director, deal with all aspects of the business. As part of the Board, though operational matters are key, strategy is equally important. A Qualified Accountant, Wife and Mother of 4 children. Family have been my drive and support to achieve such a successful career. There are no boundaries.

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