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Armagh woman celebrated as one of UK’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs

Winners announced in the UK’s leading awards programme for women business owners

An Armagh woman has been named the NatWest everywoman of the Year at a glitzy awards ceremony in London.

The 17th annual 2019 NatWest everywoman Awards celebrated the UK’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs, each recognised for their outstanding achievements.

These awards champion women in enterprise from all walks of life, providing a platform to share their journeys to success.

This year’s winners include women who are transforming and disrupting their respective industries, from art and social enterprises to wellness and beauty – all the winners are role models whose success will encourage future generations of female talent.

The 2019 NatWest everywoman of the Year Award was presented to Mairead Mackle, CEO and Founder of Homecare Independent Living in Armagh.

Mairead left her job as a podiatrist to set up Homecare Independent Living from her kitchen table, in part to spent time raising her seven children.

Over 25 years HCIL has grown into an international enterprise, providing over one million hours of care in 2018 both in Ireland and internationally, whilst expanding complementary businesses including health, housing & social care solutions, online training and renewable energies.

Judy Murray OBE accepted the Spirit of everywoman Award, which recognises a woman whose pioneering spirit has helped change the landscape for women in the UK, paving the way for others.  Judy’s lifelong mission is to make tennis more accessible, unearthing the next generation of British talent and advocating for more women in sport. Fashion designer, Lulu Guinness OBE, received the everywoman Ambassador Award, created to celebrate a high-profile entrepreneur and role model to young women considering entrepreneurship.

When she launched her business 30 years ago by designing a forward-thinking briefcase for women, Lulu was just at the beginning of what would be known as one of the most iconic accessory brands. Her brand motto ‘Dare to Be Different’ resonates as much with the woman of today as it did back in 1989.

A new award for 2019, the Fortuna Award sponsored by Chair of Everywoman Ltd, Rosaleen Blair CBE was presented to Angel Academe co-founder Sarah Turner. The Fortuna Award recognises a stand-out individual who invests or is involved in securing investment in women-founded businesses. Since its launch in 2013 Angel Academe has grown into a network of 400 investors, 80% of whom are women, investing £5m into 25 women-founded tech businesses.

Speaking about the winners, Maxine Benson MBE, Co-Founder at everywoman commented: “Women in the UK do not lack ability or ambition, yet only 1 in 3 British entrepreneurs are female – a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses. Women are consistently less likely than men to believe they have the necessary skills to be successful entrepreneurs which is why showcasing these success stories is so critical. They demonstrate passion, determination and dedication often in the face of adversity.  We congratulate this year’s winners and applaud their incredible achievements.”

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise and Social Community Capital at NatWest says, “We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also great role models who we will inspire other women to take their first steps in business. To help these entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, NatWest has a network of over 500 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”

The 2019 NatWest everywoman Awards are judged by an esteemed panel of entrepreneurs including Chrissie Rucker OBE (The White Company), Helen Pattinson (Montezumas), Julie Deane OBE (Cambridge Satchel Company), Sarah Wood OBE (Unruly), Poonam Gupta OBE (PG Paper Company), Melissa Odabash, Harriet Hastings (Biscuiteers), Sam Smith (FinnCap) and Rowan Finnegan (Regenerative Investment).

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