High-flying women gear up for awards

THE world’s only current female Spitfire pilot urged women to reach for the skies as she launched the 21st East of England Businesswomen (EEBW) Awards.

Sponsors and former winners of the prestigious awards joined pilot Carolyn Grace and the Grace Spitfire ML407 at Bentwaters Parks, Rendlesham, for the official launch of the awards.

“It is a great honour to have been asked to launch the East of England Businesswomen Awards which help celebrate the amazing achievements of businesswomen in our region,” said Ms Grace.

“It is extremely important that women get the recognition they deserve – the awards are a great way of ensuring that their success does not go unnoticed.”

Corporate and independent businesswomen from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk are now invited to nominate themselves or others in the the Businesswoman of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Start-up Business of the Year and the Rising Star of the Year award categories.

The main sponsors are Lloyds TSB Commercial and Adnams plc and the event is also supported by Ashridge Business School, Suffolk Business Women’s Network, MedImmune, Itineris, DPS Technology Group and Mosaic Publicity.

EEBW chair Jane Cox said: “We were particularly pleased to launch the awards at Bentwaters because Beatrice Wilkinson, in whose name we present a lifetime achievement award, operated her successful air charter business from Bentwaters for many years.”

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She added that the awards, run in association with the Institute of Directors Eastern Region, were first launched by the Cambridge Businesswomen’s Network in 1989.

“Since then, the awards have evolved into their current form. They are now managed by EEBW Ltd, a not for profit organisation which involves several past winners,” she said.

“The awards celebrate the achievements of successful businesswomen as well as helping to encourage younger women to pursue a career in business.

“Winning one of the trophies gives the chosen woman and her company widespread recognition for their hard work and determination in business.”

Ms Cox thanked Ms Grace for helping to launch the awards and said the pilot was an inspiration to women everywhere.

“Carolyn learned to fly in memory of her husband, Nick, who was a Spitfire pilot himself and sadly died in a car accident in 1988. She now performs at numerous displays around the country in her plane. Her strength of character and determination in the face of such tragedy makes her a fantastic example to other women in business,” she said.

Entrants can register their nominations online at www.eebw.co.uk. The closing date for entries is Thursday, March 31. Judging will begin on April 11, followed by visits to the finalists in the week beginning April 18.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on May 26 at the West Wing, Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, featuring as guest speaker BBC business reporter Karen Hoggan.