Businesswomen in line for awards

A COLLEGE principal based at Bury St Edmunds is among the finalists vying for top spot in a prestigious east of England awards event aimed at celebrating female entrepreneurship.

A COLLEGE principal based at Bury St Edmunds is among the finalists vying for top spot in a prestigious east of England awards event aimed at celebrating female entrepreneurship.

Applications for the East of England Businesswoman of the Year for 2006 hit record levels this year, with entries illustrating the wide diversity of successful businesses and organisations with which women are involved.

The awards, which are organised by the Suffolk branch of the Institute of Directors, are this year being sponsored by Stansted-based premium transatlantic carriers Eos Airlines.

The winners in each category is set to be announced by guest of honour, Beverley Aspinall, chief executive of Fortnum & Mason, and Toby Joseph, executive vice-president of global sales at Eos at a gala dinner on February 8 at the Hilton Hotel, Stansted Airport.

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The main award highlights the achievements of women who are either running their own business with turnover of more than £1million or are fundamental in the running of an organisation with turnover of more than £5million. The winner of this award gains automatic entry to the National Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award.

The four finalists include Dr Anne William, principal of West Suffolk College, who will be hoping to repeat the success of Katherine Jeffrey, head of New Hall School in Boreham, near Chelmsford, who took last year's title.

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Under Dr William's guidance, the college has embarked on a multi-million pound redevelopment programme, and was highly praised by Ofsted inspectors, who judged the quality of its curriculum, teaching and resources as outstanding.

Also in the running is lawyer Colleen Gostick, who was made an equity partner at Buckles Solicitors in Peterborough. After becoming managing partner in spring 2001, she devised and implemented internal and external changes at the firm, including its expansion and relocation.

Caroline Taysom, managing director of Luton-based fine food importers and distributors Giffords Ltd, will be hoping to take the title after the firm, which began as a retail fishmonger, supplied a host of prestigious events last year including Royal Ascot, the Chelsea Flower Show and Henley Regatta.

Vaishali Mehta, who is also known as Charli, is in the running for her achievements with the property business she founded, the MiCasa Group, based at Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire.

After selling her flat and beginning her career in the property market, she now negotiates the bulk purchase of new home developments and works with contractors to alter specifications to meet market demand before selling the properties directly to the public.

There are three finalists in the Enterprise Award, which is open to women who own organisations with a turnover in excess of £200,000 but less than £1million.

Contenders include Dr Marie Bouvet, who established Genevet, a Bury St Edmunds-based firm which manufactures and exports veterinary products, pharmaceuticals and equipment to Africa and the Middle East, and Erika Clegg, managing director of Southwold-based Spring Design, which has a nationwide network of freelance senior designers feeding into their studio-based artworker team.

Also in the running is Dr Fiona Marston, chief executive of Novacta Biosystems in Hatfield.

The two finalists for the Young Businesswoman of the Year title are Deborah Watson, founder of East Coast Publicity in Ipswich, and Mary Pratt, who established Cocoabean Recruitmenet in Norwich.

Tickets for the awards event are available from Suffolk IOD branch manager Janet Sadler on 07917 699498.

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