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12th March 2007


People who have triumphed against the odds to set up a small business are to be recognised in a unique awards scheme to be launched this week (March 12), sponsored by Barclays and backed by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).

The Barclays Trading Places Awards - now in their third year - aim to recognise men and women from all over the UK who have overcome various barriers and battled against adversity to positively change their lives by setting up in business.

The Awards - supported by youth charity The Prince's Trust, Jobcentre Plus and the DTI - will recognise sole traders and smaller businesses less than three years old, who are still on the first rungs of the commercial ladder.

Entries will be judged on how enterprising individuals have overcome personal challenges and obstacles - such as long-term unemployment, financial hurdles, physical disabilities, discrimination and personal tragedy - to set up on their own.

The Awards are endorsed by a host of celebrity entrepreneurs - including Dame Anita Roddick, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Terence Conran, Simon Woodroffe, Bill Wyman and Martha Lane Fox - who know first-hand the difficulty of going it alone against the odds.

Barclays, which is spearheading the awards aims to champion small companies by providing extensive localized knowledge and award winning services - 80,000 fledgling entrepreneurs got their feet off the ground last year with Barclays help.

Launching the awards, Barclays' Marketing Director for Local Business, John Davis, said: "Trading Places is a celebration of unsung heroes who, in spite of great personal challenges, have taken steps to establish a sustainable business and in doing so changed the direction of their lives for the better.

"Barclays Trading Places celebrates the inspiring achievement of these individuals whilst highlighting an increasingly important sector of the business community - the sole traders and small business operations that underpin our economy."

The top prize in 2006 was won by Natalie Hutchison of Simply Hair. Natalie (39) of Bury St Edmunds suffered a violent marriage, which left her bankrupt with no home or self esteem. But she turned her dream into reality by launching her own hair and beauty business which has since grown from 20 to 300 clients.

Last year's runner up was former policeman Gareth Almond (52) of Bulldog Spirit Driving School, who lost his right arm, career and pension in an accident. Instead of giving in, he underwent re-training and now runs a driving school for the disabled.

If you can relate to these stories Barclays and the Awards' partners are now inviting people to share their business start-up experiences - good and bad - as an inspiration to others.

Individuals must have been trading for a minimum of three months and no more than three years, with an annual turnover of less than 1million.

The judging panel to include Big Issue founder and editor-in-chief John Bird will select the top 10 candidates who can show how they have triumphed over adversity to successfully begin a business and change their lives.

Other judges on the panel are John Davis, Barclays' Marketing Director for Local Business, Ian King, Business Editor of The Sun, Julie Murray of The Prince's Trust, Eileen Thomson of Jobcentre Plus, Ann Carter-Gray of the DTI, Raj Kakar of Thomson Local Directories and Jane Fletcher of Leonard Cheshire.

As part of their prize the 10 National Finalists will all attend a glittering gala Awards Dinner in London at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square on October 2nd, where they will each receive 2,000 worth of free business advertising from Thomson Local Directories, plus software worth 450 courtesy of Microsoft. The winner and runner up to be announced on the night will collect 5,000 and 3,000 respectively, courtesy of Barclays.

Nomination forms are available by calling the awards hotline on 020 8673 2020 or visiting . Closing date is Friday May 11.

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