2012 shortlisted applicants

The other finalists from 2012 were:

John Charles, 40, Catering2order Ltd

John runs Catering2order, a contract catering firm which now employs 20 people.

He says: ‘As a disabled entrepreneur I have had to face a number of hurdles. I was once told that because of my disability my future job prospects would be best suited to factory assembly work. But I refused to accept this narrow view and I knew I could do more. I decided to start my own company and employ myself. This was my greatest challenge: although every high street bank I approached for start-up capital gave me extremely positive feedback on my business plan, they always classed me as "too risky" and turned down my applications. I found that these comments only served to motivate me even more.’

James King, 46, Oliver James Garden Rooms

James runs Oliver James Garden Rooms, a company which designs and builds garden room extensions which have tiled roofs. Unlike a traditional conservatory, the rooms are warm in winter and cool in summer.

He says: ‘I have faced many challenges with my eyesight deteriorating but I believe you can always engineer a solution to any difficulty.

‘One advantage of my inability to carry out certain tasks is the confidence that comes from knowing when to delegate. This has meant that I work on developing the business and trust my team to carry out the day-to-day work to an excellent standard. I hope that I inspire a good team by not allowing a small detail like my eye condition to get in the way of our business and life goals.’

Other shortlisted applicants from 2012

Andrew Cambridge, 38, The Blueberry Academy

The Blueberry Academy provides specialist support for adults with learning difficulties who wish to enter work, or move towards the world of work.

Joseph Brown, 24, Joe Brown’s Egg Round

Joe delivers free range eggs to houses in his home town of Penwortham. The business has proved to be recession proof, there is very little waste and no carbon emissions. All customers live within one and a half miles of his home, an area in which 47% of residents are over retirement age.

Tina Preston, 42, Diverse Road Safety CIC

Diverse Road Safety CIC provides specialist driver training to vulnerable road users, giving them independence through mobility. Individuals with learning difficulties or physical impairments may find driving more of a challenge, so DRS helps to build their confidence in an accessible way.

Tina Lannin, 43, 121 Captions Ltd

121 Captions Ltd provides communication support to deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people. The interpreting team transcribes speech for deaf and hard of hearing people, and the experienced lipreaders provide transcripts of silent speech for hearing people in a number of languages.

Read about Tina's marathon experience and how she was trained by Darren Meade, a contact she met at the 2012 Stelios networking event.

Nicola James, 33, Lexxic Ltd

Lexxic delivers specialist services for adults in the workplace affected by dyslexia and other neurological differences. Services are aimed at unlocking the potential of adults, raising awareness of these conditions within the workplace, and creating effective environments for employers and employees.

Stuart Anderson, 37, Signamic Limited

Signamic specialises in BSL, interpreter and translation training and assessment. Their core training programmes offer progression routes through all levels of BSL to sign language interpreting and translation.

Kate Monaghan, 28, markthree media

markthree media is a media production company which makes television programmes (often with a disability focus) as well as online content for brands, charities and other third sector clients.