Best of women in Bedfordshire business

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The very best of Bedford’s businesswomen were showcased at a special awards ceremony last Friday.

More than 160 people from attended the event, at Bedford’s Park Inn, which included a four-course meal and entertainment.

Organised by the Bedfordshire Business Women group, the evening saw seven awards presented.

The winner of the prestigious Woman of the Year category was Sarah Davis who runs global skills and succession planning consultancy Skills4Stem.

The judges said: “Sarah showed a very clear vision of where her business has come from and where it is going.

“A will to succeed and think big has driven her forward to grow her already successful business.”

Sarah’s award was presented by Helen Nellis Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.

The winner of the self employed businesswoman of the year title, sponsored by Bromley Rahlke Financial, was Penny Bruce, who runs Denton Drapes. Hard working Penny built up her business from sewing curtains at her kitchen table to one of the UK’s most respected soft furnishing firms.

The Female Employee of the Year award, sponsored by Watton Recruitment, was scooped by Lucy Clark who works for Charles Wells.

“Lucy is clearly a dedicated and determined individual and her passion and commitment to her colleagues and customers is impressive,” said the judges.

Best New Business, sponsored by Basepoint, was judged to be Baby Ballet, set up by Lauren Shepherd.

The judges said: “Lauren has impressed us with how she has overcome difficulties to continue to grow her business.”

The Female apprentice of the Year award, sponsored by Bedford College, was won by Amy Brumby from Bedford Borough Council.

Amy impressed the judges with her “sheer determination and drive” and her commitment to the council and the town itself.

Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored by Graduation Attire, was declared to be 19-year-old Summer Ronayne.

Summer, who works for CHS Gas Services in Bedford, is the youngest female gas engineer in the whole of the UK.

“She shows exceptional dedication and clearly fulfils the criteria of both achievement and ambition,” announced the judges.

Meanwhile dedicated volunteer Julia Chesters 
was declared worthy winner of a special Silver Heart award, sponsored by Charles Wells, for service to the community.

Julia is a mainstay of the Bedford Parkrun volunteer team, getting up early on Saturday mornings to inspect the course and marshall volunteers.

She has completed 102 park runs herself and “throws herself into every aspect of the event,” the judges heard.

“The panel were extremely impressed with the sheer amount of volunteering that Julia had completed and it is apparent that she is a much-appreciated leader,” they said.