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Sir Stelios announces the winners of the 16th year of the Disabled Entrepreneur Awards



The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, have announced the launch of the Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK 2024.

Leading charity Leonard Cheshire and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou have unveiled the winners of the 2024 Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs at a ceremony hosted by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation in central London.

The awards, now in their 16th year, offer a total of £200,000 in prize money to three disabled entrepreneurs in Britain who have set up their own businesses and excelled in their fields.

This year’s overall winner is Cedric Bloch, CEO of Brigit’s bakery, known for its iconic afternoon tea London sightseeing bus tours and Covent Garden bakery. After suffering a spinal cord injury in 2021 that left him paralyzed from the chest down, Carlo’s resilience has pushed him to continue growing his business. He has introduced the first wheelchair-friendly sightseeing bus to the fleet and plans to use the prize money to further improve disabled experiences, including creating the first electric-powered Routemaster bus from the 1960s.

Cedric Bloch expressed his gratitude: “I feel truly blessed to have won this award. Being disabled, we are used to dealing with challenges and difficulties. This award will help me make the company future-proof, strengthen the company’s position and guarantee jobs for the long term.”

Second place winner Amelia Peckham established Cool stools After a quad bike accident in 2005, she was left dependent on mobility aids due to a spinal cord injury. Frustrated with uncomfortable hospital-issue crutches, Amelia and her mother developed a line of comfortable, colorful and adaptable crutches and canes. Amelia plans to use the £60,000 prize money to expand into new markets and make their products more accessible.

Amelia Peckham emphasized the importance of the award: “Winning this award is a serious highlight in her career. These awards recognize all the incredible value that people with disabilities bring to business and challenge outdated stigmas in the best way.”

Third prize went to Debra Cartlidge, founder of the School of Sign Language and the White House Deaf Specialist. Despite being told she would never amount to anything, Debra worked multiple jobs, learned sign language and pursued an education while raising a family. Her School of Sign Language supports the deaf community and she plans to use the £40,000 prize to develop a Deaf College for post-16 education.

Debra Cartlidge shared her mission: “Winning this award is not only a personal achievement, but also a testament to the incredible journey my amazing team of employees has taken together! We will continue to inspire and empower others to believe in their dreams and strive for a more inclusive future.”

Since the awards began in 2006, a total of £1,500,000 (including this year’s amount) has been donated by Sir Stelios and his foundation to recognize the exceptional achievements of disabled entrepreneurs.

Sir Stelios, creator and owner of the easy family of brands, commented: “We are proud to honor Cedric, Amelia and Debra today. These are three standout examples of how disabled entrepreneurs are paving the way for others and inspiring more people with disabilities to start their own businesses.”

The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is also donating £20,000 to Leonard Cheshire to support the organization of this year’s awards.

Ruth Owen, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire, added: “We want to ensure that we not only recognize but also celebrate the voices and achievements of people with disabilities. This year’s candidates have demonstrated remarkable business skills and unwavering resilience, reflecting a thriving community of disabled entrepreneurs in Britain.”