A Milton Keynes nurse who swapped hospital beds for balance sheets has been crowned the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year at The National Women in Business Awards ceremony sponsored by HSBC.

Jan Flawn is the owner of PJ Care, a leading provider of specialist neurological care and neuro-rehabilitation for people with progressive or acquired neurological conditions.

Jan earned her place in the final, beating off stiff competition after winning the SME (Growth) award in the regional finals in September. She also took the national SME (Growth) category award at a prestigious lunch organised by Forward Ladies at the Royal Armouries in Leeds yesterday (Thursday) before an audience of senior business leaders and their guests.

Jennifer Crawley, chair of the judges and UK Deputy Director of Small Businesses for HSBC said:

“I am proud to support the Forward Ladies National Women in Business Awards, which promote and encourage female entrepreneurs. It is great to see so many women being recognised for their hard work and commitment to business. The standard of entries for 2016 has been extremely high, with some really inspirational stories from those women who have taken part.”

James Cliff, HSBC’s Head of Business Banking in the UK who presented the award to Jan, and who was also the category sponsor, also announced a parental leave support package for small businesses in the UK. The package will apply to employees of either gender going on parental leave, covering maternity, shared parental leave, adoption and surrogacy. He said: “Our support package is an opportunity to shape a better future for our small business customers who require more assistance in overcoming the challenges of parental leave. Their most significant barrier is financial, with additional costs and cash flow challenges often leading to these entrepreneurs holding off on growth opportunities and limiting their investment plans.”

The move was welcomed by MD of Forward Ladies, Griselda Togobo, who said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy, creating two thirds of jobs, and they need support to help alleviate the cost of maternity or parental leave. This package will help remove one of the biggest obstacles to gender equality whilst helping small businesses. Forward Ladies is proud to be working with HSBC on the launch of this fantastic initiative.”

Other winners at the awards ceremony included:

The Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Petra Wetzel, the founder and MD of WEST Brewery in Glasgow, which she has grown from a self-contained German style beer hall and brewery into a successful distribution operation with more than 1,000 venues in the UK now stocking WEST beers.

The Not for Profit business woman of the year, which went to Jenny Holloway of Fashion Enter. Jenny has worked in the fashion industry for more than thirty years, starting as an assistant buyer for Littlewoods, then as a selector for M&S and a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group before opening her own label Retro. In 2006 Jenny incorporated Fashion Enter, a social enterprise employing more than 100 people making 7,500 units a week from a factory in London. They also have the Fashion Studio for start-ups and a Fashion Technology Academy for skills training. The award was sponsored by WGN Accountants.

Harriet Kelsall, the founder and creative director of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, based in Hitchin won the Retail businesswoman of the year award. She is a designer and leading figure in the jewellery industry. A Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, she was the first in the world to both sell Fairtrade gold and be certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council. The award was sponsored by The Yorkshire Post.

Barinder Hothi, founder and Group MD of global training provider The Knowledge Academy based in Bracknell, won the international business woman of the year. She has extensive management experience having previously worked at Microsoft, Xerox and IBM. The award was sponsored by the Department for International Trade.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) business woman of the year was Emma McGuigan who is the senior managing director of technology UK & Ireland for Accenture and the business sponsor for the global technology talent strategy. Her area of expertise is large scale systems architecture and delivery management, and during her career, she has worked with clients on a number of large financial services programmes. The award was sponsored by Yorkshire Water.

The award for the SME (Emerging) businesswoman of the year went to Tricia Cusden who is the founder and MD of Look Fabulous Forever – a makeup brand with a range of online products specifically for older skin. Based in Wimbledon, and following past career in teaching and management training she re-trained as a makeup artist and was 65 before starting the business three years ago. The company has a strong pro-age ethos – celebrating beauty in older faces, and aims to give older women confidence about their age and appearance. The award was sponsored by the Co-op Insurance.

Rising Star national winner was Monica Chia, MD of Karimix, based in Faversham, who is an independent food manufacturer, providing innovative fusion ethnic flavours in a range of relishes, chutneys, curry paste, marinades, soups, sauces and condiments. The company supplies direct to consumers, retailers, foodservice outlets and wholesalers. The award was sponsored by Common Purpose UK.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO of, Leeds, won the digital/online business woman title. She is the founder and CEO of Maiden-Voyage, the world’s only specialist network connecting female business travellers globally. Maiden-Voyage has a team of global ambassadors to support inbound business travellers by providing female travel safety training. She has raised close to £500,000 in angel investment to underpin global expansion. The award was sponsored by Sky UK.

Vicki Davenport, sales and commercial director of The Pink Link, Huddersfield, was the Inspiring Leader of the year. Vicki is the MD of the company which specialises in the express distribution of small consignments of palletised freight throughout the UK and Europe. The company is currently celebrating 25 years in business. The Award was sponsored by Real World Group.

Start-up business woman of the year was Joanna Stephenson, MD of PHD Marketing & Strategy, a marketing and communications agency in Pontefract. After a career in the chemical industry followed by working as the marketing director at LINPAC group, Jo pitched to the Board of LINPAC Group to outsource their marketing dept. PHD now supplies a range of marketing & communications services to manufacturing and distribution businesses across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. The award was sponsored by Carrwood Park.

The national Young Entrepreneur was Hannah Duraid, CEO of The Great Escape Game, a live escape room experience in Sheffield. She and her partner opened their first room last year and have subsequently opened four more, with thousands of visitors passing through their doors in the past 16 months. They are expanding premises and devising new technical puzzles challenges. The award was sponsored by Leeds Beckett University.

Other sponsors and supporting partners included Virgin Trains, Perfect Cellar, Saville AV, LCF Law, Willis Towers Watson, United Utilities, Manchester Evening News, Phoenix Dance, the Institute of Directors, Welcome to Yorkshire, Yorkshire Life and Psychologies Magazine.