Sir Stelios picks five finalists for national entrepreneur award

25 October 2016

Stelios Award finalist Scott SmithEasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and leading international charity Leonard Cheshire Disability announced today the five finalists for the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2016.

Each finalist has won £10,000 and now has a chance to win a further £20,000.

A record amount of candidates applied for the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs this year.

The applications came from diverse business arenas including documentary makers, software application developers, night photographers, vintage ice-cream makers, fashion designers and accessible playground designers.

Sir Stelios said:

‘The interest in this year’s award — on our tenth anniversary — highlights the role entrepreneurs can take in helping combat unemployment among disabled people.

‘The sheer range of business ideas submitted this year will mean me and my team are going to have a challenging but immensely rewarding task ahead of us.’

The five finalists are:

Andrew Graham from Newcastle, whose business Pop-Up Gym provides rehabilitation and fitness for people by bringing the gym to them. The company provides a fun and pleasant environment for clients to exercise without feeling self-conscious.

Alex Papanikolaou from Glasgow, whose business provides training — including access audits and equality and inclusiveness consultations. Alex has also developed the Freedom One Wheelchair.

Matt Wadsworth from Norwich. Matt created an app which reads menus for blind and visually impaired people. It is already used around the UK by chains such as Carluccio’s, Côte, Nando’s and Pret á Manger.

Scott Smith from Wolverhampton​, whose business Invictus Active provides products to help disabled people keep active on a daily basis. Their products include accessible bikes and the ‘Invictus Active Trainer’ which helps wheelchair users to improve fitness, balance and technique.

Dave Kelly from Liverpool. Dave’s Daisy UK runs sports courses for schools, colleges and after school clubs, among other organisations. It also offers pan-disability sports clubs.

The overall winner will win £30,000 and the additional 4 shortlisted applicants will each get £10,000.

The award, jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, started 10 year ago. It recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.

Tony Adamson, head of programmes, enterprise and innovation at Leonard Cheshire, said:

‘At a time when less than half the disabled working-age people in the UK have jobs, starting your own company is looking increasingly attractive.

‘You can manage your time and create your own vision. We look forward to looking through the exciting and innovative business ideas from around the UK.’

Past winners have been drawn from the travel, building and IT sectors, as well as businesses specialising in disability or mobility aids and services.

The winner will be announced on Thursday 10 November 2016.

Media enquires

For media enquiries please email Claire Farrell or Selina Mills or call 020 3242 0204 or 020 3242 0298. Out of hours: 07903 949 388. General press office: 020 3242 0399.

For information or interviews with Sir Stelios please email Richard Shackleton or call 07905 779 799. You can also email Tracy Ghori or call 07900 606 557.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. With over 7,500 staff, the charity supports over 7,000 disabled people in the UK.

The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is a registered charity in both Monaco and the UK and backs a number of charitable initiatives supporting entrepreneurship, education and the environment in the UK, Greece and Cyprus. Its ‘Food from the Heart’ programme recently handed out its one millionth free lunchtime snack to beneficiaries in Greece and Cyprus worst hit by the financial crisis in southern Europe.