North East’s leading entrepreneurs unveiled

24 April 2014

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Neil Stephenson of Onyx Group and Graeme Oram of Five Lamps are amongst leading business figures to join chair Sir Peter Vardy of Vardy Group on the judging panel for EY’s North of England Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2014

Three North East entrepreneurs have been shortlisted in EY’s North of England Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards 2014, which is sponsored by Credit Suisse.

Paul McEldon, Chief Executive of Sunderland-based North East Business and Innovation Centre; Jeff Winn, Managing Director of Newcastle-based Winn Solicitors and Kevin Brennan, Chief Executive Officer of Stokesley-based Quorn Foods will compete with 27 other entrepreneurs from 25 businesses from across the North of England. The North of England final will be held on 24 June 2014 at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester.

The North of England winners will go on to vie for the title of EY UK Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014 and a chance to represent their country at a global awards ceremony in June 2015.

The 2014 North of England judging panel is chaired by Sir Peter Vardy of Vardy Group, who built his family’s car dealership company, Reg Vardy plc, into a £2bn national business employing 6,000 people, before selling the company in 2006. He is joined on the panel by eight Northern business leaders including Neil Stephenson, CEO of Stockton-based Onyx Group and 2013 North of England category winner Graeme Oram, Chief Executive of Thornaby-based Five Lamps.

Sir Peter Vardy said: “Recognising and celebrating the success of entrepreneurs is so important. It is a privilege to be involved in the judging of EY’s North of England Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards 2014.

“We will be looking for the best examples of business building, scalability, innovation and contribution to the regional and national economy. I am sure we will see some amazing success stories that need to be told so as to encourage the next generation of business builders throughout the UK.”

Last year’s other North of England category winners from the North East included Geoffrey Thompson of South Shields-based Utilitywise and Steve Parkin of Cramlington-based Mayborn Group.

Simon Whiteside, North East Entrepreneur Of The Year Leader at EY, commented: “Our 2014 North East finalists have delivered growth by developing tailored propositions. Their business achievements are all the more impressive having been conceived and largely delivered during some of the most challenging economic conditions UK companies have ever faced.

“It is crucial that we continue to recognise and support these and other entrepreneurial companies in the North East. They lay the foundations for job and wealth creation, and have a critical role to play in our region’s economic expansion.”

Stuart Watson, UK Entrepreneur Of the Year Leader, added: “I am delighted to see the calibre of this year’s finalists and wish to congratulate them all. The UK's entrepreneurs have been growing their businesses over the last few years despite the flat economy and are now looking forward to stronger growth. These dynamic fast growth businesses are vital to the UK's global competitiveness and these awards celebrate their success.”

This year’s North of England finalists are:

  • Paul McEldon, Chief Executive, North East Business and Innovation Centre (Sunderland)
  • Jeff Winn, Managing Director, Winn Solicitors (Newcastle)
  • Kevin Brennan, Chief Executive Officer, Quorn Foods (Stokesely)
  • Robert Whiteside, CEO, Adare (Huddersfield)
  • Richard Butterfield, Group Chairman, Principle Holdings ltd (Huddersfield)
  • Sean Ramsden, Chief Executive, Ramsden International (Grimsby)
  • Caroline Wherritt, Chief Executive, Re:Work Office Furniture (Leeds)
  • Hedley Aylott, CEO and Co-Founder, Summit (Willerby, Hull)
  • Gavin Winter, Managing Director, The Test People Ltd (Leeds)
  • Jon Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Xercise4Less (Leeds)
  • Mottie Kessler, Chairman and CEO, 2M Holdings Ltd (Runcorn)
  • Amin Amiri, Founder and Managing Director, a2e Venture Catalysts (Manchester)
  • Mark Austin and Paul Kenyon, Joint Founders, Avecto (Cheadle)
  • Mahmud Kamani, Joint Founder and CEO, boohoo (Manchester)
  • Stephen Thorpe, Executive Chairman, CME Medical UK Ltd (Blackpool)
  • David Judge, Managing Director, Cormar Carpets (Bury)
  • Ed Salt, Managing Director, Delamere Dairy (Knutsford)
  • Tracy Mort MBE, Managing Director, Grace Cole Limited (Cheadle)
  • William Lees-Jones, Managing Director, JW Lees & Co (Brewers) Limited (Manchester)
  • Clare Roberts, CEO, Kids Planet (Lymm)
  • Jonathan Coxon and Alex Elliott, Joint Managing Directors, Liquid Personnel (Manchester)
  • Nitin Passi, Managing Director, Missguided (Manchester)
  • Simon Cooper, CEO, On The Beach  (Cheadle)
  • Bill Holmes, Chief Executive and Founder, Radius Payment Solutions (Crewe)
  • Heejae Chae, Group Chief Executive, Scapa Group plc (Manchester)
  • Mark Bigley, CEO, Secured Mail (Warrington)
  • Jane Davis, Director,The Reader Organisation (Liverpool)
  • Sarah Dunning, CEO, Westmorland Limited (Penrith)

This year’s North of England region judges are:

  • Peter Vardy, Chairman, Vardy Group
  • Grant Berry, Managing Partner, NorthEdge Capital LLP
  • Karen Boswell, CEO, East Coast Rail
  • Paul Gilbert, Chairman of The Gym Group, Better Bathrooms and Clothing Sites
  • Ian Kelly, Founder and CEO, Matrix
  • Graeme Oram, Chief Executive, Five Lamps
  • Stuart Paver, Managing Director, Pavers
  • Angela Spindler, CEO, N Brown Group
  • Neil Stephenson, CEO, Onyx Group