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Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK

This unique and prestigious award is sponsored by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the renowned entrepreneur best known for founding easyJet. The winner receives £50,000 to expand their business.

The creation of the award was motivated by Stelios’s goal of not only supporting disabled entrepreneurs, but also raising awareness of the skills and inventiveness of those with disabilities.

2014 finalists

Anna Wilkinson — MoreRehab

Sheffield-based MoreRehab offers rehabilitation services for people with long term disabilities. Managing director Anna Wilkinson has 70% hearing loss but overcomes the challenges this creates through teaching deaf awareness to colleagues and people who use their services.

If successful, Anna would use the £50,000 prize to expand their services into other locations, including Doncaster and Ripley, and purchase new rehabilitation equipment. They would also begin to offer music therapy and educational services.

Ben Wolfenden — Visibilis

Visibilis offers digital marketing expertise to help businesses improve their online visibility. Founder and client services director Ben Wolfenden has cystic fibrosis and insulin-dependent diabetes, and undergoes a gruelling regime of medication and three hours of physiotherapy every day.

Growing up, he was given a life expectancy of 30. Refusing to accept this, he is now 31 and looking to expand his business further. The Stelios Award would provide funding to develop a new business plan, hire new staff and buy medical equipment to allow Ben to work more comfortably.

Norma Baillie — PrioritEyes

Since 2011, PrioritEyes has delivered one-to-one support to blind and partially sighted people to maximise their safety, confidence and independence.

Operations manager Norma lost her sight at the age of nine and, finding the available services she received inappropriate to her age and circumstances, decided to use her experiences to make things better for others. She eventually trained as a rehabilitation officer for people with visual impairments.

Only one-third of registered blind and partially sighted people of working age are in employment. Norma would use the winning funds for PrioritEyes to support more people with visual impairments into work. She would also develop her company's online presence with a new website and social media channels. Growing her business would allow her to offer greater stability to staff through longer-term contracts.