This week, I was delighted to be invited to the Annual Stelios Award for Entrepreneurs with a Disability 2017, held at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. As a proud, past winner of this award it’s heartening to see how many entrants there were this year, and furthermore, the exceptional quality of the businesses represented in the competition.
To meet fellow business owners and other past winners was a great opportunity to reconnect and make new connections, with people that have a diverse range of problems but brought together by a common bond, we are all… entrepreneurs. It was great to hook up again with my friend, Amar Latif who was Stelios’s first winner of the award 11 years ago. Amar is owner of Traveleyes, a specialist travel agent (and motivational speaker) and I have in fact booked my first holiday with his company. Cuba here I come!
I managed to have a chat with this year’s winner Hannah Chamberlain co-founder on Mental Snapp, Hannah has developed a space for you to tell your story - and to regain your confidence, through personal video. It acts as a support therapist for people to manage their own mental health. Hannah’s website is here: http://mentalsnapp.com/meet-the-team/
Before the wine really kicked in, Hannah asked me if winning the award made a difference to me, my business and my life. Great question. Winning the award gave me such a boost in confidence and a willingness to want to help others and be more involved. Up until that point, I was ‘in the closet’, trying to hide the fact that I was going blind while running my own business. Coming out about my ‘dis’ability was the best thing I have done for my business - but I still prefer the term para-entrepreneur or para-builder.
Finally, I would like to publicly thank Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and all the team at the Stelios Foundation, with a particular shout out to the wonderful Tracy Ghori.The time, dedication and money they put in to run these Awards is an inspiration, one that deserves greater recognition and also to Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Here’s to the Awards in 2018!