I was honoured to be asked to help judge the 2009 Remote Worker Awards last week organised by Paula Wynne of Remote Employment, especially as one of the prizes was a garden office kindly donated by Vivid Green. The prize was not for a specific category but went to the business which in the judges' opinions would make the most of an opportunity to be a shedworker.
The very well deserved winner was Amanda Farren of Coventry-based Ella Announcements and it will give Amanda much needed additional space as she juggles caring for her three young children and building her business. Ella Announcements was launched in early 2007 when young mum Amanda was looking for a way to stay at home with her children yet keep working. She had spent the previous year learning graphic and web design and used these skills to set up Ella Announcements, an online business offering announcements and invitations for any occasion, focusing on babies and young children. Amanda said: "I am over the moon that my achievements have been recognised with winning such a prestigious award." Neil Johnston of Vivid Green added: "I am delighted our office has been won by Amanda; she is exactly the sort of person for whom a separate space in which to work is so beneficial. I am sure it will help her accelerate the growth of her business and allow her to stay close to her children as they grow up”. (Pictured above are Neil and Paula presenting the award to Amanda).
The awards (which were run in association with BT Business) all recognised the achievements of people who work from home or remotely and their employers. Mick Hegarty, strategy and commercial director, BT Business said: “These awards highlight some of the best examples of how remote workers are helping the environment, increasing business productivity and improving quality of life. The commitment of these fantastic award winners coupled with technology that enables flexible working means that even more people can now work in this way and get more out of their working and home lives.”
The categories and winners of the Remote Worker Awards 2009 were:
* The BT Home Business Award: Dean Rhodes-Brandon, Carshalton, Surrey.
Dean’s company yourlocalcinema.com is a cinema-listings service for subtitled and audio-described (narrated) cinema releases and shows, for people with hearing or visual problems. Dean is profoundly deaf and corresponds almost entirely by email.
* The Remote Worker Award: Marieke Guy, Melksham, Wiltshire.
Marieke works for UKOLN, the University of Bath’s centre of excellence in digital information management. Marieke became UKOLN’s remote worker champion in 2008 and also works to improve working conditions for other remote workers.
* The Home Worker Award: Karen Reyburn, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.
Karen manages the European division of a global organisation RAN ONE Europe entirely from home. Her motivation for entering this award is to let others see that life doesn’t have to revolve around a job location.
* The Freelance Consultant Award: Derek Pattenson, Watford, Hertfordshire.
Derek set up Small Office Solutions in the mid 1990s, to help people working from small or home offices with IT. As technology developed Derek was able to work from home himself, connecting to clients’ systems remotely.
* The Netmums Work From Home Award: Wendy French, Bracknell, Berkshire.
Wendy wants to combine her experience as a textile designer, senior PA and admin and finance officer to develop a home-based business. Winning the Home Worker Award is the stepping stone Wendy needs to set up her new business.
* The Open University Skills Award: Jane Hopkins, Coleshill, North Warwickshire.
Jane Hopkins entered this award to take her online business to the next level. Jane has developed mumsclub.co.uk, a unique business club for mums. An Open University professional qualification will provide additional skills to further her business success.
* The Remote Employer Award: Cuddledry, Nether Stowey, Somerset.
Cuddledry manufactures and supplies towels and accessories for babies and children, employing home-based personnel. It recognises that there are many people no longer able to work full time in senior roles due to childcare commitments. Cuddledry has used home working to the advantage of all, demonstrating that home businesses can significantly exceed financial projections.
* The Helen O’ Grady Special Award
Abbe Martin: Exeter, Devon.
Abbe’s background in the arts and drama, love of children and recognition of how they can benefit from a self-development programme was key to winning this award and a £15k drama-academy franchise.
Catherine Prout: Warwick, Warwickshire.
Catherine’s commitment to teaching drama has enabled her being awarded the Helen O’Grady Special Award. Her dedication, enthusiasm, confidence and experience led to the judges awarding a £15k drama-academy franchise.
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