National finalists named in business hero awards

The business heroes hoping for national glory in the award finals to be held on 13th October are:
ONE NATION Renewables – Renewable Energy Company
East Riding, Yorkshire
When John Dixon Hart was in his twenties he had mental health problems and went through a period of alcohol and drug abuse. He even spent time in prison for a drink driving related matter. With the help of a relative, John decided to turn his life around and in the early 2000’s he turned his back on his former problems and abuses, such that by 2007 his attitude was completely transformed and he started a new company importing and selling wind turbines. Since then, he and the business have gone from strength to strength, doubling turnover year on year.
Joe Brown’s Egg Round – Egg delivery
Preston, Lancashire
Despite being diagnosed with Autism when he was three, Joe Brown attended a mainstream secondary school. Unfortunately Joe was bullied and when he was 16, left school with only two GCSE’s. Joe was determined to make a better life for himself and for the next four years continued his studies at college. Joe still struggled to find fulltime employment so, in July 2008, decided to become his own boss and started Joe Brown’s Egg Round, a door-to-door egg delivery service.
Cravin Tunez Entertainment – Record label and events organiser
West Worthing, West Sussex
Paul McDonald fell in with a bad crowd when he was younger and when he was 12, lost an arm in a train accident when he was messing around on train tracks. His recovery was a long and difficult process and Paul became depressed, but his passion for music encouraged him to start up his own events company. Paul also uses his own experience to help raise awareness of the dangers of playing railway tracks.
Angel Cakes by Virginia Valentine – Cake designer
Altrincham, Cheshire
Virginia Valentine had a traumatic childhood involving serious physical and sexual abuse, which led to a number of major health issues in her adult life. However, inspired by her grandmother and her love of baking, went on to set up her own cake shop in November 2007.
Gods Worldwide – Security company
Colchester, Essex
Wendy Irwin had a successful career as an air stewardess, but decided to turn her life around after being brutally attacked by her partner. Now, with two young children, Wendy runs her own security company which she established in May 2008.
Gigglebucket – Gift shop
Deborah Stone was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 16 and was advised to abandon her education and concentrate on getting better. Deborah was having none of this and went on to gain a degree. However, Deborah’s health deteriorated after the birth of her daughter and she had to give up her job in the NHS. This only served to spur her on to open her own card and gift shop in December 2006, a second card and gift shop in February 2007, and a hair and beauty salon in September 2008.
Happy Daze – Clothes shop
When he was only seven years old, Craig Earley’s father died in a tragic road accident – and so started a downward spiral.  Craig not only became addicted to drugs and served a prison sentence, but also lost a leg when he was run over by a van. Craig was determined to turn his life around and, in October 2008, opened his shop which sells a wide range of alternative gifts.
In Trim – Hair Salon
Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Aileen Keenan is a single mum, who also took on the guardianship of her younger sister after their father’s death. Unfortunately she was made redundant and found it hard to support her family on benefits. But, determined to turn her life around, Aileen put her hairdressing experience to good use and opened her own salon in April 2007.
SoBor – Soft Drink Company
Carmarthen, Wales
Rhodri Davis was only 21 when he had to take over sole responsibility for his family and their farm after his father suffered a devastating brain seizure – caused by Encephalitis.  During the two years Rhodri helped nurse his dad, he realised that his goals in life had changed. The experience gave Rhodri the courage and motivation to set up his own business in August 2008, manufacturing and distributing fruit smoothies, whilst also helping to raise awareness for The Encephalitis Society.
Brynels Hats & Accessories
Whilst pregnant with her first child, Vivean Pomell developed Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, which severely restricted the use of her hands. As a result, Vivean was eventually unable to work. When her daughter was only three, she lost some of her hair and in an attempt to disguise this, Vivean began creating hats and hair pieces. In January 2007 Vivian started Brynels Hats & Accessories, providing bespoke and customised hats to the general public, as well a specialised service to people who suffer with hair loss.
Barclays Marketing Director for Local Business, John Davis, a judge on the panel, said: “Trading Places celebrates inspirational people who have struggled through adversity to get their businesses up and running. Even with the odds against them they’ve made a success of their business and their lives, and I congratulate all the finalists on their hard work. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about them at our awards night in October.”
This year’s national finalists will be competing in three new categories – Triumph over Disability, Success after Unemployment and the Spirit of Inspiration Award – before hoping to be named the 2009 Barclays Trading Places Winner.
Each category winner will also walk away with £5,000 for their business, courtesy of Barclays, and all national finalists will receive £2,000 worth of computer software from awards supporter Microsoft.
Another new addition for 2009 will see the awards partners coming together to offer everyone who enters a range of business support and mentoring packages.
Other award partners are Jobcentre Plus, youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS), the NFEA and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The Barclays Trading Places Gala Dinner is on Tuesday 13 October at the InterContinental Hotel, Park Lane, London.
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