2012 winner

Dave Hawkins, 56, who is paraplegic following a road accident in 1980, faced stiff competition to win the Award in 2012 with Cyclone Technologies - a company which supplies wheelchairs and fitness equipment to disabled people in the UK, USA and Europe.

Products include bespoke, lightweight wheelchairs, accessible gym equipment, functional electrical stimulation equipment (designed for people with spinal injuries) and mobility devices for people with severe walking impairments.

David says: ‘I used to work in building and joinery, but after becoming paraplegic I had to move away from my original career path and retrain myself completely. I had to develop skills and knowledge of an industry which I had no previous experience.

‘One advantage of running a business aimed at other disabled people is that I have found I can empathise with my customers. I am at an advantage when I am choosing products and demonstrating their benefits to potential customers because we have faced similar hurdles.

‘I’m thrilled to have won this award. It means so much to me and will make the world of difference in our plans to grow the business. We were up against some tough competition from two well-respected, successful businessmen, and I’d like to offer them my best wishes.

‘Technology is the new frontier in the disabled market and there is a whole range of new products for different needs, from systems that can mechanically make a paralysed person walk, to innovations that can electronically trigger muscles.

‘The team and I are looking forward to continuing to take the business forward, and this prize will be a major part of that development.’

Read about the other finalists and shortlisted applicants for the 2012 award.