Sir Stelios announces winners of the 16th year of the Disabled Entrepreneur Awards, gifting £200,000 to 3 worthy disabled entrepreneurs

Cedric Bloch of Brigit’s Bakery, takes top prize of £100,000
Amelia Peckham of Cool Crutches, named runner up, winning £60,000
Debra Cartlidge of School of Sign Language & The White House Deaf Specialist Ltd comes third with a £40,000 prize
Leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou have unveiled the winners of the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2024 in a ceremony in central London today (Tuesday 9th July) hosted by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation.

The awards, now in their 16th year, offer a grand total of £200,000 in prizes for 3 disabled entrepreneurs in the UK that have set up their own business and excelled in their chosen field.

Overall Winner

This year’s overall winner has been announced as Cedric Bloch, CEO of Brigit’s Bakery, creators of the iconic afternoon tea London sightseeing bus tours and well-loved Covent Garden bakery.

Cedric has put disability at the heart of the brand after he sustained a spinal injury in 2021 following a bike crash that left him paralysed from the chest down. Cedric’s unwavering determination and unbreakable spirit saw him excel in his recovery and continue to grow his business. He has since introduced the first wheelchair-friendly sightseeing bus to the Brigit’s Bakery fleet and plans to use the prize money to further enhance experiences for disabled people, as well as creating the first ever electric-powered 1960s Routemaster bus

Cedric said:

“I feel truly blessed to win this award. Being disabled; we are used to dealing with challenges and difficulties. We do not have many positives as we are in constant pain and have to deal with medical and physical complications on a daily basis. It’s very easy to give up and unfortunately a lot of people I met have.

“Putting the spotlight and awarding disabled entrepreneurs proves that we can thrive and that we are championed throughout the business world. It’s definitely not an easy task to keep working with daily pain and struggles, but I do like a challenge.

“This prize will help me future proof the business, solidifying the company’s position and guaranteeing jobs for the long term.”

Second Place Winner

Second place winner, Amelia Peckham, founded Cool Crutches after a quad bike accident in 2005 that left her reliant on mobility aids due to a spinal injury. She saw a niche in the market after hospital-issued crutches left her with painful blisters on her hands and in need of a wheelchair. Along with her mother, Amelia created a line of crutches for adults and children and walking sticks that are comfortable, colourful, customisable and easy to use.

The brand has fostered a community of disabled people that sought an alternative to standard issue aids and Amelia plans to use the £60,000 prize money to launch into new markets and make their products accessible to more people.

Amelia added:

“To win this award is a serious career highlight, not only is it going to be the biggest boost to our growth but it also acknowledges that what we are doing is great!

“Disabled entrepreneurs sadly are often seen as a risk and having a disability all too often perceived as a weakness. In reality, living with a disability gives you a number of qualities that lend themselves exceptionally well to being an entrepreneur – resilience, tenacity, never giving up, knowing our weaknesses and being confident in asking for help to name just a few. These awards celebrate all the incredible value disabled people bring to business and by shining a light on the success in disabled entrepreneurship they challenge outdated stigmas in the best way!”

Third Place Winner

Third prize went to Debra Cartlidge, founder of School of Sign Language & The White House Deaf Specialist. Debra, who is deaf, was told she would never amount to anything by her teachers and peers. She worked multiple jobs and took it upon herself to learn sign language and study, all while raising a young family. In 2006, she founded the School of Sign Language and eventually created a space for people in the deaf community to access support and learning.

The Deaf Village works with individuals to support their needs and help reach personal goals and also runs a residential facility called The White House. Debra will put the prize money towards a Deaf College for post-16 education which is currently in development.

Debra added:

“Right from the start, my mission has been to pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible society, particularly for our deaf community. Winning this award is not just a personal achievement, but also a testament to the incredible journey my amazing staff team have been on together! We will continue to inspire and empower others to believe in their dreams and strive for a more inclusive future.”

Since the awards started in 2006 a grand total of £1,500,000 (including this year’s sum) has been donated by Sir Stelios and his foundation to disabled entrepreneurs recognising the exceptional achievements of disabled entrepreneurs. Sir Stelios, creator and owner of the easy family of brands ( see www.easy.com and www.easyHistory.info ) and founder and president of the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, said:

“We’re proud to honour Cedric, Amelia and Debra today. I was fascinated to learn more about each of their stories and found it inspiring how they found business success in their respective fields.

We know how difficult it can be for disabled people to get a job that is why I always believed that their best option to become their own boss ! This year we’re proud to have received an overwhelming number of applicants that have created innovative and ingenious businesses to generate jobs and money for themselves, their families and teams.

These are three stand-out examples of how disabled entrepreneurs are blazing the trail for others and inspire more disabled people to start their own business and we hope that the prize money can help their businesses go from strength to strength.”

The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is also donating £20,000 to Leonard Cheshire directly to help with the running of this year’s awards.

Ruth Owen Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire said:

“We are committed to making sure that we not only recognise but celebrate, the voices and achievements of disabled individuals. We believe in creating platforms where disabled entrepreneurs thrive without barriers.”

“This year’s applicants have shown remarkable business skills. They also have shown unwavering resilience. They reflect a thriving community of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact SECNewgate list EasyGroup easygroup@secnewgate.co.uk for the stelios foundation

Or for Leonard Cheshire by email onpress.office@leonardcheshire.org or Bethany Wilshaw, Communications Officer, Leonard Cheshire by email on or 020 3242 0313,

We are Leonard Cheshire – supporting individuals to live and work as independently as they choose, whatever their ability. Led by people with experience of disability, we open doors to opportunity, choice, and support for disabled people across the UK. Visit: www.leonardcheshire.org or follow us on twitter: @leonardcheshire
The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is a registered UK charity, www.stelios.foundation

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