Sir Stelios picks Newcastle business for finalist in national awards

27 October 2016

Drew Graham with his dogEasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and leading international charity Leonard Cheshire Disability announced today Drew Graham from Newcastle has won £10,000 and a place as a finalist in the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2016

Drew’s business, Pop-Up Gym, provides rehabilitation and fitness for disabled people by bringing the gym to them. 

Drew says:

‘I had never thought of having my own business, but after breaking my neck two years ago while training for a Triathlon, I had to reinvent myself. 

‘I went through rehabilitation in the United States and soon realised that there was no equivalent facility back home in Newcastle.

‘Moreover, those who needed it the most could not easily get to the gym. So I decided to take the gym to them. 

‘Being picked as a finalist for the Stelios Award is amazing. And it is a complete game-changer for the project, whether we win first place or not.’ 

The judges said the competition was particularly tough this year, following a record number of applications with business ideas including documentary makers, phone and software application developers, night photographers, vintage ice-cream makers, fashion designers and an accessible playground designer.

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 our 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.’

Each finalist has won £10,000. The winner will win a further £20,000, making the overall top prize £30,000. 

Drew joins four other candidates: 

  • Dave Kelly, Daisy UK
  • Scott Smith, Invictus Active​
  • Matthew Wadsworth, Good Food Talks 
  • Alex Papanikolaou, Freedom One Life

A total of £70,000 in cash prizes will be won this year — making a grand total of £570,000 since 2006. 

The award, jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs in 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 10 November 2016.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please email Claire Farrell on 020 2242 0204. 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.