Meet the finalists of the seventh Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK
2 December 2013
by Naomi Brill
The three lucky people shortlisted for this year's Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK show that, even in our seventh year, we're still uncovering more disabled entrepreneurs who have created some amazing products.
The £50,000 prize — the largest cash sum of its kind — will be announced at a special ceremony in London on 12 December, so let's find out a bit more about the finalists.
Giles Long - Lexicon Decoder Ltd
You might recognise Giles from his record-breaking appearance at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, or from his presenting and commentary on the London 2012 Paralympics for Channel 4. But it's his company's innovative system of classifying disabilities and impairment types for the Paralympics which earned him a place on the shortlist.
LEXI, the graphics system which was used by Channel 4 in their coverage of the Paralympic Games, uses a ‘traffic light’ system to concisely and accurately explain the different classifications so audiences can understand why athletes are competing together.
Giles says: ‘I realised that few people understood what the Paralympics were and how the classifications worked. Its complexity was a real turn off for them and that was disheartening for me. I realised that there could be a graphical solution to this confusion. That was then I first had the idea for LEXI; it first hit UK and Australian TV screens during the coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.’
James King – Oliver James Garden Rooms
James already has some experience of the Stelios Awards — he was on a finalist last year but lost out to Dave Hawkins of Cyclone Technologies.
James applied again this year and is now back in the running for the £50,000 prize. His team design and build garden room extensions which, unlike traditional conservatories, are warm in winter and cool in summer.
James began trading in 2011 and already employs seven people. Now with a turnover of almost £300,000, James works with homeowners across several counties in England. If he wins the award he would use the money to expand his business to new areas of the country.
James has a degenerative eye condition and is registered blind. He says: ‘I have faced many challenges with my eyesight deteriorating but I believe you can always engineer a solution to any difficulty.’
Terence Nelson - TNAR Limited (Terry Nelson's Aqua Running)
Terry is a former Liverpool FC footballer and paratrooper. Following a kidney transplant, he ran the London Marathon and represented Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in 1993, where he won gold in the 5000m running event.
But his first transplant failed so he spent 12 years on dialysis and six days a week in hospital until a second transplant in 2006. During this time he began to use a wheelchair. As a form of therapy, he began running in a swimming pool and got the idea to develop a buoyancy suit to help him exercise in the water.
Terry has developed a specialist buoyancy suit which allows people of all ages and abilities to exercise intensively in deep water with no risk of injury.
In 2011, Terry had his right leg amputated as a result of complications following an operation. Ten days later he was running in the pool in the bodysuit he developed.
The suit is used by top football clubs including Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and the England national side.
Terry says: ‘I use my experiences of injury and illness to develop my business and to enhance people’s lives in a positive and healthy way. Winning this award would be very helpful at this crucial time in our development and would help to cover the costs of opening a new factory unit, sourcing materials, employing a new workforce and expanding our licensing opportunities around the world.’
More about the awards
Find out more about the Stelios Awards, including all the past winners.
Naomi Brill is quality assurance manager in our strategic projects and innovative services department, which runs the awards alongside the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation.