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Judith Moran and Thomas Scott, the son of Susan Dobson - from and representing The Susan Dobson Memo

North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014

by Sarah Callender

Well what a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, the 15th Annual North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards at the Hilton in Gateshead.

The awards focus on showcasing the most successful and inspiring female entrepreneurs in the region.

I was lucky enough to go along to the event with Lorraine Schapira of Yellow Dog PR, as the guests of Judith Moran and her fabulous team at Learning Curve, who were also shortlisted for an award.

Over the years I have found that people have very mixed views on the benefits of business awards, but one think that is clear is the opportunity to build profile and build brand awareness for a business. The application process also encourages you to take time out to consider the strengths within the business and acknowledge and share key achievements. They are also a great way to celebrate with your colleagues and family, which was definitely evident on Saturday evening where the women and men of the North East were out in all their finery.

The most anticipated part of the night by far was the presentation of the Susan Dobson Award, which was given to a woman who, over the last five years or more, has achieved outstanding success in creating or growing a new or existing enterprise. I was delighted to witness that chair and chief executive of Learning Curve, Judith Moran (pictured right), received the accolade.

Other stand out winners from the ceremony included Alice Blackie of Pink Boutique, North East online fashion retailer who started her business back in 2012 to pay her mortgage. She now sells 2,000 dresses a day and employs 40 people. Alice, who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, has seen an impressive 300% sales increase since 2013 and now ships to over 50 countries across the world.

The Best New Business award went to Jo York, co-founder of Reframed TV. I was particularly interested in this business, as it had recently gone through the Ignite technology accelerator programme. Their vision is to change the way we consume, interact with and shares video, Jo summarised this as becoming the rival to YouTube.

Overall the night was a celebration of regional entrepreneurship, successfully showcasing several thriving businesses, all of which have continued to innovate and grow. Last year’s winner of the Susan Dobson award, Jo Hand from Jo Hand Recruitment shared a heart-felt speech about the impact of last year’s award. She talked about how it had helped raise the business’ profile, which in turn had resulted in new business, but most of all, she expressed her sense of achievement and how amazing it felt to make her so family proud.